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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?

Request an appointment online or call us to book your appointment. Once your appointment is booked, your forms will be available on the patient portal.

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:

  • Prescription from your doctor.
  • Current insurance card.
  • Authorization number from your insurance carrier.
  • Any forms you completed at home.
  • Credit card or cash for your insurance co-pay.
  • Any breast imaging studies that you have from another facility. We like to compare the new mammogram with any previous studies to assist in the diagnostic process.
  • Picture identification.
  • 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:

  • Have allergies, specifically to iodine.
  • Are pregnant, think you may be pregnant or are breast feeding.
  • Have breast implants.
  • Have any breast studies from another facility. We like to compare the new mammogram with any previous studies to assist in the diagnostic process.
  • 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.

    All of your signed reports and images are available to your referring doctor on our physician's web portal, and available to you on the patient web portal.