Bone Density (DEXA)
Dual energy x-ray absorptiometry is a quick, painless procedure for measuring bone loss associated with osteoporosis—a disease where decreasing bone density makes bones brittle and prone to fracture. DEXA uses very low dose x-rays to evaluate bone status and predict fracture risk before osteoporosis develops, allowing prevention therapy to be started.
Bone density testing is also used to determine if particular medications are needed to improve bone density or to evaluate the effectiveness of current medication. Since osteoporosis usually has no warning signs or symptoms, men and woman both should consider having a bone density test around age 35. This provides an objective baseline against which future bone status can be compared.
Note: DEXA exams can be done on a walk-in basis at our centers. However, you must not have taken calcium supplements within the last 8 hours or had an imaging study involving a contrast agent within the last 4 days. (See Preparation below for details.)
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- Prior to your scheduled appointment, Overlake will call you to discuss specific instructions, review your health and insurance information and answer any questions.
- Do not take calcium supplements 8 hours prior to your exam or on the day of your scan.
- Leave your valuables at home. All jewelry and any metal objects must be removed prior to the exam.
- Wear comfortable clothing without metal hooks, buttons or zippers. Pants with an elastic waistband are recommended.
- Please notify the technologist if you are pregnant or could be pregnant.
- Let us know if there is any metal in the part of the body being imaged, such as spinal fusion rods or a hip prosthesis.
- DEXA studies cannot be scheduled within 4 days following any contrast study such as nuclear medicine, barium enema, UGI, IVP, etc.
- Please arrive 15 minutes prior to your exam.
- Allow approximately 15 to 30 minutes for the procedure.
- You will be asked to lie on your back on a padded scanning bed and breathe normally. A scanner will pass over one area of your skeleton—your lower spine or hip—as a dual energy beam of low dose x-ray passes through your body and is measured by a detector. You will not feel anything during the exam.
- The technologist will reposition your arms and legs as needed, and a scan of a second skeletal area will be taken.
- DEXA technology measures the amount of x-rays absorbed by the bones in your body. The two x-ray energies allow the machine to differentiate between bone and soft tissue, giving a very accurate estimation of bone density.
- You may leave as soon as the exam is completed.
- Your referring physician will receive a report and pictures detailing the findings of your exam within 48 hours. You should contact your doctor to discuss the results.