WHAT IS BONE DENSITOMETRY? Bone density scanning, also called dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA or DEXA) or bone densitometry, is an enhanced form of x-ray technology that is used to measure bone loss.
DEXA bone densitometry is most often used to diagnose osteoporosis, a condition that often affects women after menopause but may also be found in men. Osteoporosis involves a gradual loss of calcium, causing the bones to become thinner, more fragile and more likely to break.
DEXA is also effective in tracking the effects of treatment for osteoporosis and other conditions that cause bone loss. The DEXA test can also assess an individual’s risk for developing fractures.
During a comprehensive examination with DEXA, you will lie comfortably still on a padded table while the DEXA unit scans two or more areas, usually the fracture prone hip and spine. Unlike some X-ray machines, radiation exposure during bone densitometry is extremely low. The entire process takes only minutes to complete, depending on the number of sites scanned. It involves no injections or invasive procedures.
BONE DENSITY TESTING IS STRONGLY RECOMMENDED IF YOU:
• Are a post-menopausal woman and not taking estrogen.
• Have a personal or maternal history of hip fracture or smoking.
• Are post-menopausal women who is tall (over 5 feet 7 inches) or thin (less than 125 pounds).
• Are a man with clinical conditions associated with bone loss.
• Use medications that are known to cause bone loss, including corticosteroids such as Prednisone, various anti-seizure medications such as Dilantin and certain barbiturates, or high-dose thyroid replacement drugs.
• Have type 1 (formerly called juvenile or insulin-dependent) diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease or a family history of osteoporosis.
• Have high bone turnover, which shows up in the form of excessive collagen in urine samples.
• Have a thyroid condition, such as hyperthyroidism.
• Have a parathyroid condition, such as hyperparathyroidism.
• Have experienced a fracture after only mild trauma.
• Have had x-ray evidence of vertebral fracture or other signs of osteoporosis.
PREPARING FOR BONE DENSITOMETRY On the day of the exam, you may eat normally. You should not take calcium supplements for at least 24 hours before your exam.
You should wear loose, comfortable clothing, avoiding garments that have zippers, belts or buttons made of metal.
You may be asked to remove some or all of your clothes and to wear a gown during the exam. You may also be asked to remove jewelry, eye glasses and any metal objects or clothing that might interfere with the x-ray images.
Inform your physician if you recently had a barium examination or have been injected with a contrast material for a computed tomography (CT) scan or radioisotope scan. You may have to wait 10 to 14 days before undergoing a DEXA test.
Women should always inform their physician or x-ray technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant. Many imaging tests are not performed during pregnancy because radiation may be harmful to the fetus.
Our imaging department seeks to provide your physician with the diagnostic tools needed to pinpoint an injury or illness, and prescribe the appropriate treatment. Our experienced staff works together to provide quality medical imaging services in a comfortable and convenient setting.