A DEXA scan is a quick and painless procedure to measure bone density in the centre of the skeleton. A large scanning arm is passed over the body to check for weak and brittle bones. But, as bone density varies in different parts of the skeleton, more than one part of your body may need to be scanned. An X-ray detector located inside the scanning arm measures the amount of X-rays and the data is used to produce an image of the scanned area.
How should one prepare for the scan? What is the procedure?
Depending on the area to be scanned, you could remain fully clothed. But, you will need to remove clothes with metal fasteners, like zips, hooks or buckles. Unlike an MRI or CT, in a DEXA scan, you will not be enclosed in a tunnel or a ring, so there is no risk of feeling claustrophobic.
During the scan, you will lie on your back on a flat, open X-ray table.
You will have to remain absolutely still, so images won’t blur.
It takes about five minutes depending on the area and is an outpatient procedure.
What does a DEXA scan do?
A DEXA scan compares the bone density of your body with the bone density expected for a young healthy adult or a control score.
Who should take it?
Bone density testing is strongly recommended if you:
- Are a post-menopausal woman who is not taking estrogen.
- Have a personal or maternal history of hip fracture.
- Are a smoker.
- Are a post menopausal woman who is very tall or very thin.
- Are a man with clinical conditions associated with bone loss.
- Have juvenile or insulin dependent diabetes
- Have liver disease, kidney disease or a family history of osteoporosis.
- Have hyperthyroidism or hyperparathyroidism.
- Use medications that are known to cause bone loss.