Bone Densitometry, also known as Dual-Energy X-ray Absorption or DEXA, is a form of medical imaging technology which uses small amounts of radiation to determine bone density.
Bone Densitometry is a painless test to help your doctor diagnose osteoporosis or to determine whether certain steps should be taken to protect your bone health. The results from your DEXA exam will be compared with the peak bone mass of the average healthy same sex adult. A bone densitometry exam is more precise than conventional diagnostic imaging (X-rays) and can help to diagnose bone loss at an early stage.
Your doctor will be able to give you additional details about the exam, but a general idea of what to expect is provided below.
Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or suspect you may be pregnant. Your doctor may decide whether to postpone the exam or use an alternative exam such as ultrasound to reduce the possible risk of exposing your fetus to radiation.
Let your doctor know if you have recently had a barium exam or have been injected with a contrast medium for a CT or radioisotope scan. Your doctor may wish to postpone a DEXA test for 5 - 7 days.
You may eat normally on the day of your exam. You should avoid taking calcium supplements for at least 24 hours prior to your exam.
You will be asked to remove any body piercings (if any) or other metal or electronic objects from your body before the exam as these objects interfere with the quality of the images.
Generally, the portion of your body that is being examined will be undressed and you may be asked to wear a hospital gown to cover yourself during the exam.
The DEXA bone density exam typically takes 15 - 20 minutes to complete depending on the part of your body being examined and the type of equipment used.
Our technologist will prepare and guide you by explaining the procedure, assisting in removal of clothing or piercings (if any) and positioning you to ensure the highest quality images are obtained from your exam.
The technologist performs the exam and can always see and hear you. The technologist may ask and assist you with changing positions in order to obtain images from multiple areas of interest.
The DEXA exam has 2 parts, one to assess your spine, the other to assess your hips. For the spine scan, you will lie flat on your back with your legs elevated. For the hip scan you will lie flat on your back with your legs outstretched. Both hips are scanned unless you have had a hip replacement, in which case the hip without replacement would be scanned. If both hips have been replaced, only your spine will be scanned.
For both parts, the detector portion of the machine will slowly pass over the area without direct contact with your body. At no time is your body confined, enclosed or your face covered.
When your exam is complete you may leave and resume regular activities.
A radiologist will review your exam images and report the findings to your doctor within 24 hours. Your doctor will then discuss the findings and next steps with you.
Great care is taken to achieve the highest quality images while using the lowest possible dosage of radiation.