At Advanced Imaging Centers, DEXA scans are used to measure the density of bones in both men and women. It uses X-rays to show how dense bones are in the body with the help of the DEXA device that measures bones located in the center of the body, hips, and the spine.
How It Works
The machine works by sending low energy X-rays through the bones. They come from two sources so that the doctor can view denser bones more accurately. The rays are measured by a device called a detector and this information is calculated by a computer that figures out the density of the bones. A low score means that the bone density is weak and some mass has been lost. Bones that lose density are more likely to break or facture.
What Happens During the Test?
Your doctor wants you to take a DEXA scan to find out about your bone density. The scan takes about 10 to 20 minutes. It is safe and there is no pain involved at all! All you do is lie on a table as the machine passes over top of you.
Before the test you can eat normally, but should not take any calcium supplement that day or 24 hours before the exam. Don’t wear clothing with metal zippers and remove keys, jewelry, or anything metal, before the scan.
If you are getting your spine tested your legs will be supported by a box on the table, which flattens the pelvis and lowers the spine.
If you are getting your hips checked, the doctor often puts the patients foot in a metal brace that will rotate the hip inward. The best way to take the test is to lie as still as possible.
The scanner produces two x-rays one low and the other high. It is scored using a T score that compares your bones to a healthy 30-year-old woman. T scores of 1.0 or higher are normal, scores of 1.5 to 2.5 are considered low, and 2.5 or higher means the person has osteoporosis.
Who Needs the Test?
This test is often preformed on women after menopause, but those with a history of bone loss in their family should also get the test. Others that should take the test are women after menopause, men and women with arthritis, and those taking certain medications. Also, a person with a history of fractures, diabetes, thyroid condition, and back pain might also be a good candidate for this test.
Why would I have bone loss?
Lifestyle factors that add to thinning bones are drinking too much, smoking, lack of exercise, and diets low in calcium, phosphorus, and Vitamin D. After the test your physician may prescribe medication or recommend that you take a calcium and Vitamin D supplement, along with more exercise, and a healthy diet.