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  • DEXA Scan ImageBone Density Scan

    Bone density scans, also known as DEXA scans, are the most commonly used test to measure bone density. DEXA stands for ‘Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry.’ It is the best way to diagnose osteopenia or osteoporosis.

    Who should have this test?

    The National Osteoporosis Foundation’s guidelines state that the following people should get the DEXA test:

    • women over 65
    • younger post menopausal women who have any of the osteoporosis risk factors
    • those with specific fractures
    • men who may also be at risk for osteoporosis as they age - especially if they have some of the risk factors.

    Who should not have this test?

    You should not have the test if: 

    • you are pregnant or think you are pregnant 
    • you have had another X-ray with contrast media in the last 7 days (some examples: barium enema, upper GI, some CT scans) 
    • you have had a nuclear scan (including bone scan and thyroid study) in the last 7 days.

    Why is this test used? Why not a regular X-ray or a CT scan?

    DEXA Scans are used to measure bone mineral density because they:

    • are dedicated x-ray machines for measuring bone density. A person would need to lose 20-30% of their bone density before it would show up on an X-ray.
    • require less radiation exposure than CT scans or Radiographic Absorptiometry. In fact you are exposed to more radiation on a coast to coast airline flight than you are during a DEXA scan.

    Preparing for a DEXA scan 

    This is a non-invasive test and requires very little preparation. 

    • If you are taking calcium supplements, stop taking them for 48 hours before your test.
    • If you are taking any medications for Osteopenia or Osteoposorosis, do not take them the day of your test.
    • You can eat and drink normally on the day of the test.
    • Do wear loose clothing that has no metal zippers, metal buttons etc. (or you will need to disrobe).
    • If you wear any kind of metal jewelry, you will need to remove it before the test.
    • Be sure to tell the technician if you have had any hip or back injury.

    What to expect during a DEXA scan

    • You will lie on a table.
    • Your lower legs may be raised on a platform.
    • A scanner arm moves back and forth over the part of your body being scanned.
    • Remain still and do not talk during the scan.
    • Follow instructions to help prevent the need for a second exam.

    What to expect after a DEXA scan

    • You may need to wait briefly while the images are reviewed.
    • Your doctor will discuss the test results with you during a follow-up visit or over the phone.

    Contact us

    If you have additional questions about your appointment or our services, contact our Radiology Department at (906) 483-1410 or (800) 573-5001 (toll free).


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