Bone Density

A bone density scan (also referred to as DEXA), is a specialized form of x-ray technology that is used to measure bone mineral density. It is non-invasive and painless. A bone density scan is most often recommended to assist your healthcare provider in diagnosing osteoporosis. This is a condition that involves a gradual loss of calcium which can cause the bones to become more fragile and more likely to break. Osteoporosis usually affects women after menopause. Besides helping to diagnose osteoporosis, a bone density scan can assess an individual’s risk for developing fractures. The risk of developing a fracture can then be utilized by your healthcare provider to determine the necessity of treatment (calcium supplementation).

If you are taking calcium supplements, do not take them for 24 hours before your scan. Wear loose, comfortable clothing on the day of the scan. Try to avoid clothing with zippers or belts. Inform the technologist if you recently had any type of barium exam or have been injected with a contrast material for a study such as a CT. If so, you may have to reschedule your bone density scan.

Prior to the examination, the technologist will assist you in lying down on the table. An imaging device or detector will be positioned over your body in order to measure the bone density in your hips and spine. The detector will slowly pass over the areas being examined. In order to transmit clear images to the computer, you will be asked to lie very still. The study takes about 10-15 minutes to complete. The computer images will be reviewed by a board-certified radiologist and the results sent to your healthcare provider.