Bone Densitometry (DEXA)

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Bone Densitometry is an x-ray exam that measures the amount of bone mineral in the hip and spine, most frequently. On occasion, other areas may be measured due to limitations of the patient or previous surgeries on the hip and spine. This measurement aids in the diagnosis of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition where bones become weak to the point of breaking. If not prevented or left untreated, osteoporosis can progress painlessly until a bone breaks. These broken bones typically occur in the hip, spine and wrist.

A low dose of radiation is used during the x-ray to produce detailed images of the bones. Information is collected and compared to a reference group to gauge your risk for osteoporosis fracture. The spine and hip are most frequently measured because that is where most osteoporotic fractures occur. However, measuring other bones in the body can be just as accurate.

Need to Know

Nice to Know
  • This exam should not be done within two weeks of a nuclear medicine procedure, within one week of any contrast study of within 48 hours of a barium study
  • Do not take calcium supplements or osteoporosis medications for 24 hours prior to the exam
  • A low dose of radiation is used during the x-ray exam
  • Please inform the technologist if you are pregnant or think you might be pregnant
  • The exam is painless and non-invasive
  • Patients wearing clothing without metal (i.e. zippers, snaps, underwire bras, etc.) can have the exam without changing out of their clothes
  • The first step in prevention of osteoporosis is to determine whether you are at risk. There are many factors that determine who will develop osteoporosis including:
    - Age
    - Gender
    - Family History
    - Race
    - Bone Structure and Body Weight
    - Menopause
    - Lifestyle
    - Chronic Disease

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Why is This Exam Done?

Bone Densitometry is one of the most accurate methods for measuring bone loss associated with osteoporosis.


What Will Happen During the Exam?

  • You may be asked to change into a gown before your exam is performed to avoid interference from metal fasteners on clothing, buttons or jewelry.
  • We will review your medical history with you and any past imaging studies you may have had. Our highly trained technologist will explain the exam in detail and answer any questions you may have.
  • The technologist will position you on a padded comfortable, table. You will be positioned for the exam and you will be asked to breathe normally and be still during the exam.
  • You will be asked to lay flat on your back for about 10 minutes.
  • It will take approximately 15-30 minutes to complete the exam.
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How Should I Prepare?

  • Do not take calcium supplements or osteoporosis medications for 24 hours prior to the exam
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What Are the Benefits and Risks?

The benefits of Bone Densitometry:

  • Osteoporosis and osteopenia are highly treatable diseases. Bone density exams provide a quick, painless, and uninvasive way of detecting low bone mass before symptoms arise.

Risks you should be aware of:

  • The risks associated with this exam are extremely low.
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Where Can I Get This Exam?

We perform bone density at nine of our office locations:

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