If your doctor has ordered you to take a DEXA scan, you may be wondering what to expect. To put it simply, dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scans are non-invasive scans used to measure bone mineral density to determine if there is any bone loss.
What is a DEXA scan?
A bone-density test is a fast and non-invasive way to determine the strength of your bones. The DEXA scan uses low energy x-rays to create detailed pictures of the body to determine bone loss. This test is commonly used to diagnose osteoporosis, a common condition in which bones lose their mass and become weak and brittle over time.
DEXA Scan Uses
The primary use of a DEXA scan is to diagnose and treat osteoporosis and other bone-related health problems. Your doctor may also recommend that you get a DEXA scan if you:
- Have a health condition (such as arthritis)
- Have had a broken bone due to an injury or fall
- Have a family history of hip fractures
DEXA Scan Procedure Preparation
Preparation for the DEXA scan is actually quite simple! Prior to the exam day, you may continue eating as normal. However, you should avoid taking calcium supplements for at least 24 hours before your exam.
On the day of the exam, you should wear comfortable clothing and avoid garments that have zippers, belts or buttons made of metal. Your pockets should be free of any objects including your phone, wallet and keys.
How Long Does A DEXA Scan Last?
A DEXA scan typically lasts anywhere between 10 to 30 minutes. You will lie still on a scanning table while a small x-ray scans your spine as well as both of your hips. The scanner will pass over you several times and you may be repositioned in order to get a better view of specific bones.
The doctor will use the images to determine the calcium content in your bones and compare that to the calcium content in healthy bones in order to determine any bone loss or signs of osteoporosis. If you or someone you know have been recommended to take a DEXA scan, schedule an appointment with our team.