What Is a DEXA Scan?

Bone density scanning, also called dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA), is a painless imaging test that is used to measure bone loss. It involves exposing the lower spine and hips to a small amount of ionizing radiation to form pictures of the bones. DEXA technology has software that calculates and display bone density measurements. DEXA is most often used to diagnose osteoporosis.

Before the Scan

  • Women should always inform the technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant.
  • On the day of the exam you may eat normally. You should not take calcium supplements for at least 24 hours before your exam.
  • You should wear loose, comfortable clothing, avoiding garments that have zippers, belts or buttons made of metal. You may be asked to remove some or all of your clothes and to wear a gown during the exam.
  • Inform your technologist if you recently had a barium examination or have been injected with a contrast material for a CT scan. If so you may have to wait 10 to 14 days before undergoing a DEXA test.

During the Bone Density Scan

  • Bone density tests are a quick and painless procedure.
  • The patient lies face up on a padded table.
  • You must hold very still and may be asked to keep from breathing for a few seconds while the x-ray picture is taken to reduce the possibility of a blurred image.

After the DEXA Scan

    • You may resume your normal activities and diet immediately following the test.
    • A report from today’s exam will be sent to your doctor within 24 hours.

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