Bone Densitometry (DXA)
What is Bone Densitometry?
Bone Densitometry is a form of x-ray technology known as dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and is commonly referred to as “DEXA”. DXA is a quick and painless procedure for measuring bone loss. Measurement of the spine and hip are most commonly done. Bone Densitometry is a widely used technique for measuring bone mineral density and diagnosing the presence of osteoporosis.
What to expect:
Wear loose, comfortable clothing. If you avoid clothing with metal zippers, belts or buttons made of metal you will not need to change. Otherwise, you may be asked to change into a gown or scrub pants. Private changing rooms and secured lockers are available. Inform your physician if you have recently had a test that required you to drink barium or be injected with contrast material (such as a CT scan or nuclear medicine test); you may have to wait several days after these tests to have a bone density test. There are no restrictions on what you can eat before the exam.
The exam will last approximately 15-30 minutes. You will lie on your back or side on a padded table to allow for the examination of your spine and hips. Once in position, a detector moves slowly over the area to be imaged and sends information to a computer. While the exam is in progress, you will be asked to hold as still as possible to ensure a clear image. The amount of x-ray used is very small and is completely painless.
The results of your bone density exam are interpreted by a radiologist and sent to your doctor. When he/she receives the results, they will discuss them with you and develop a treatment plan for you if necessary.
Who is a candidate?
Osteoporosis can affect anyone, but is most common in post-menopausal women. Bone Densitometry is of limited use in people with spinal deformity or those who have had previous spinal surgery. It is also limited in patients who have had bilateral hip replacements. Osteoarthritis and vertebral compression fractures may also interfere with the accuracy of the test.