What is DXA Bone Density?
A DXA scan uses very low dose x-rays and is a non-invasive, painless procedure that measures your bone density. It is the most accurate and most commonly used method for measuring bone loss. A DXA scan is the best way for doctors to diagnose conditions like osteoporosis or osteopenia, as well as assess a patient’s risk of suffering a bone fracture.
DXA bone density is primarily recommended if you have had x-ray evidence of vertebral fracture, family history of osteporosis or hip fracture, or experienced a fracture after only mild trauma. If you have hyperthyroidism, hyperparathyroidism, type 1 diabetes, use medications that are known to cause bone loss or are a post-menopausal woman not taking estrogen, a DXA scan should be performed.
How does DXA Bone Density work?
A DXA scan uses low energy x-rays. Two kinds of x-ray beams with differing energy levels are directed at the bone that is being scanned. The images produced allow the radiologist to determine your bone mineral density. The more dense the bone is, the fewer x-rays get through to a special detector. This information is sent to a computer which gives a score of the average density of the bone. A low score indicates that the bone is more prone to fracture and some material of the bone has been lost.
How do I prepare?
Do not take calcium, vitamin D or multi-vitamin supplements for at least 24 hours before your scan. If you are taking medications for osteoporosis or osteopenia, check with your doctor to confirm whether you should skip your dose on the day of your scan.
You must remove all jewelry and any other metallic objects such as hearing aids, jeans with metal zippers, body piercings and removable dental work. Wearing a sweatsuit with no metal may prevent you from having to change into a gown.
Bring with you to your appointment:
What do I do when I arrive?
Present your prescription, insurance card and completed forms at the front desk. If any additional forms are required, they will be given to you at this time.
Be sure to inform the receptionist and technologist if you:
Plan to arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment.
What happens during the test?
All metal must be removed before your scan including jewelry, belt buckles and any clothing with metal zippers or buttons. Metal interferes with the quality and accuracy of the images captured during the DXA scan. If your clothing contains any metal, you will need to change into a gown. The technologist will confirm that you are free of all metal and review your medical history with you.
You will be asked to lie on a special x-ray table. An x-ray detector will slowly move over your body and scan your spine, hips and wrists without touching you. These are the bones that are more likely to fracture due to osteoporosis. You should try to remain as still as possible to ensure the best results.
The scan takes about 10 to 15 minutes.
What happens after the test?
One of our board certified radiologists specializing in radiography interprets your mammogram, compares them to any previous studies and dictates a report. The report is then faxed and mailed to your referring doctor within one or two days. Your doctor will read the report and review the findings with you.
You will also receive an email or a letter directly from us within one week. If our radiologist feels you need additional views, we will contact you to schedule an appointment and we will also notify your doctor.