What is bone density?

Bone density, commonly called DEXA, testing is considered the most accurate method available for the screening and diagnosis of Osteoporosis. The bone density test most commonly recommended by doctors is the DEXA (Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry) test. The DEXA scan is a simple, fast and non-invasive procedure. The scan is acquired using small amounts of radiation sent through the body to create a picture.

What does a dexa scan show?

It is similar to other X-ray tests, but measures the density of your bones to determine fracture risk. It serves as an important tool in the early detection of osteoporosis. Many cases are recognized and treated before the symptoms occur.

Should I be tested for osteoporosis?

The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) recommends having a bone density test if you are:

  • Over 65 years old
  • Postmenopausal with at least one additional risk factor or have had a fracture
  • Considering osteoporosis therapy
  • On prolonged hormone replacement therapy

How long does a DEXA scan take?

Most exams take between 10 and 20 minutes.

Are there any restrictions to prevent me from having a DEXA scan?

If you are or may be pregnant, the procedure may not be performed.

Is there any preparation before the study?

There is minimal preparation before having your DEXA Scan.

  • You must not take any calcium supplements (includes prescription and over-to-counter) the day of your DEXA scan.
  • Wear loose and comfortable clothing with no metal.
  • Remove any jewelry or other objects that may interfere with the study.

What can I expect?

You will be asked to lie down on a cushioned table while a scanner arm passes over your body. For best results you should follow instructions.

How are my test results interpreted?

When interpreting your densitometry results, physicians categorize patients as normal, osteopenic or osteoporotic, using classifications established by the World Health Organization (WHO). They determine these classifications from your test results or “T-score.” Your score, which is based on a comparison to a “young, normal adult” reference, is the critical variable in diagnosis.

5 steps to bone health:

  • Get your daily recommended amounts of calcium and vitamin D
  • Engage in regular weight-bearing exercise
  • Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol
  • Talk to your doctor about bone health and take medication when appropriate
  • Have a bone density test to determine your level of risk