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Bone Density - DEXA

Bone density scanning is an advanced form of radiology that is used to measure bone loss. DEXA is the most current standard for measuring bone mineral density (BMD).

What Is a Bone Density Scan?

Just as in a common X-ray, a bone density scan is a painless medical test that physicians use for the diagnosis and treatment of various conditions. It involves exposing the part of the body being examined to a small amount of ionizing radiation to form pictures of the body.

How Does the Procedure Work?

Specialized DEXA technology has software that calculates and display bone density measurements on a computer monitor. It makes its calculations by sending a thin invisible beam of low dose X-rays with two energy peaks through the bones and soft tissue. One peak is absorbed and measures the soft tissue and the other measures the bone. The soft tissue is subtracted from the total of the two combined and what remains is the patient's Body mineral density.

Common Uses of this Procedure

A DEXA bone densitometry test is most often used to aid in the diagnosis of osteoporosis and other conditions that cause bone loss. It is also a very useful tool for evaluating the effects that treatment has had on those such conditions.

Osteoporosis is a gradual loss of calcium in the bones, which causes them to become less dense, therefore more fragile and much easier to break.

Your Physician May Order a Bone Density Test If :

  • you have had X-ray' s showing vertebral fracture
  • you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis
  • you are a post-menopausal woman, not on estrogen therapy
  • you are a post-menopausal woman who is 5'7" or less than 125 pounds
  • you have history of or family history of smoking or hip fracture
  • you have a thyroid or parathyroid condition
  • you have type 1 diabetes, kidney disease, or liver disease
  • you are a man with medical conditions known to cause bone loss
  • you have high levels of collagen in urine specimens

How Should I Prepare?

  • Women should always tell their x - ray technologist or physician if there is a possibility of pregnancy.
  • If you have had a barium, CT scan, radioisotope, or if you have been injected with any contrast dye(used for testing purposes) you should make your physician aware they may require you to wait 10 - 14 days before your bone density procedure.
  • Do not take calcium supplements for a minimum of 24 hours before your scheduled test.
  • Wear comfortable clothing that is free of any metal objects and that is easy to change if you are asked to wear a gown.
  • You may be asked to remove any jewelry as well as your eyeglasses before your exam.

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