DEXA scans are most often used to diagnose osteoporosis, which is characterized by a gradual loss of bone. Osteoporosis causes the bones to become more fragile and more likely to break and is usually found in older people. A DEXA scan evaluates or measures bone density. In this article, we will describe everything you need to know about a DEXA scan.
DEXA or DXA scan—also called bone densitometry or dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry—uses a small dose of ionizing radiation to create detailed pictures of the body to measure bone loss. It is generally used to diagnose osteoporosis or to identify a person’s risk of bone fractures due to osteoporosis. DEXA scans are fast, non-invasive and considered the standard method for diagnosing osteoporosis.
During the procedure, an imaging machine moves slowly over the body while a beam of low-dose energy passes through. The hips and spine are most commonly imaged, as they are frequent locations of fractures for people suffering from osteoporosis.
A DEXA scan may be recommended for:
- Women over the age of 65 and males over age 70
- People receiving treatment for osteoporosis (may require a scan every 1 or 2 years)
- Post-menopausal women
- People with a history of hip fracture or smoking
- Those who experience other conditions associated with bone loss, such as rheumatoid arthritis, chronic kidney or liver disease
Is DEXA the same as a bone density scan?
Yes, DEXA is another name for a type of bone density scan. There are other forms of bone density tests that can be used when a DEXA machine is not available, or would not be the preferred method of testing.
How to Prepare for a DEXA Scan
On the day of the exam, you may eat and drink as you normally would. Your radiology office may specify that you avoid taking calcium supplements for at least 24 hours before your DEXA scan. Wear loose, comfortable clothing and avoid wearing clothing that has anything metal on it. You may be asked to wear a gown during the exam. You should remove jewelry, any metal objects, or clothing that might interfere with the x-ray machine.
Don’t succumb to bone fractures from osteoporosis—get screened before the worst happens. If you are looking for a DEXA scan in Manhattan, call the radiology specialists at Rosetta Radiology today to schedule your appointment.