Bone Density (DEXA Scan)

The Basics of a Bone Density Exam

A bone density test, also called dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA scan) or bone densitometry, is an enhanced X-ray that measures bone loss. During a DEXA scan, a dual energy beam of very low dose X-rays passes through the area being examined. The detectors then compare the amount of X-rays absorbed by the bone to the amount absorbed by non-bony tissues of the body. Regular DEXA scans help doctors diagnose osteoporosis and assess a patient’s risk for developing osteoporosis. The results of these exams are critical in the management of this disease.

DEXA Scan Patient Preparation

A DEXA scan should not be performed if you are or may be pregnant, or are within 10 days of any other imaging examination. Do not take any calcium products for at least 24 hours prior to the examination. Wear loose, comfortable clothing, preferably without zippers, buttons, or any metal fasteners.

Bring copies of any prior exams or related studies from other locations (images and reports) as these play a critical role in the overall success of your exam. And, please remember to bring a copy of your insurance card with you.

What can I expect from a bone density test?

The DEXA scan is fast, painless and non-invasive. The patient will be asked to lie flat on a padded table will the machine scans over areas of the body.

Length of Exam

Most exams take between 10 and 20 minutes

Obtaining the Results

Your test will be reviewed by a radiologist trained in interpreting the results of this type of procedure. The results will be reported to your doctor. You should contact the doctor who ordered your bone density test to obtain the results.