Bone Density

Dual energy x-ray absorptiometry

A bone density test, or DEXA scan, is designed to check for osteoporosis, a disease that occurs when bones become thin and weak due to the loss of calcium and other minerals that keep them strong. It most commonly affects women after menopause, and continues to progress over time. Osteoporosis can result in serious fractures if not treated. Bone densitometry is a simple and painless test that uses special X-rays to measure the strength of your bones and determines the risk of fracture. During the test, you will lie on a padded table as the scanner arm passes over you.

Bone density testing may be recommended if you:

  • have experienced a fracture after only mild trauma
  • have a thyroid condition
  • have had an x-ray with evidence of fracture or other signs of osteoporosis
  • are a post-menopausal woman not taking estrogen
  • have a personal or maternal history of hip fracture or smoking
  • are a man with clinical conditions associated with bone loss
  • use medications that are known to cause bone loss
  • have Type 1 diabetes, liver or kidney conditions, or family history of osteoporosis

How to prepare:

You can eat normally on the day of your exam, but do not take calcium supplements or TUMS for at least 24 hours before your test. Wear comfortable, loose fitting clothes and avoid garments that have metal such as zippers, belts, or buttons. Please note, patients must weigh less than 300 pounds due to table load limits or an alternative scan of the forearm will be performed.

If you recently had an exam that involved injected contrast materials like a CT scan, please inform your physician, as you must wait 10-14 days before we can perform your bone density test. If there is a possibility you are pregnant, you should inform your physician or the technologist.

Length of exam:

Your bone density test only takes 20-30 minutes.

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