DEXA (Bone Density)

What is DEXA and how does it work?


DEXA, Bone Density, Bone Densitometry, Diagnostic Imaging ToolDEXA (Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry) or bone densitometry uses low strength X-rays to measure the density and mineral content of your bones. The amount of X-ray used is very small - less than one-tenth of what is used in a chest X-ray. This test is a valuable tool for diagnosing osteoporosis, which often has no symptoms until you suffer a fracture. DEXA can diagnose the disease at its earliest stages, which means you can begin receiving treatment to protect your bones sooner.


How do you prepare for your DEXA scan?


• Please arrive at least 20 minutes before your appointment and bring your referral. If you need to reschedule or cancel, call 24 hours in advance.

• Let us know what medications you take, including non-prescription medicines and supplements. You may take Fosamax and multivitamins before your exam.

• Tell us if you are or may be pregnant or if you are breastfeeding.

• Do not take any calcium supplements for 24 hours before your exam.

• If you have had an X-ray that used any contrast material (dye) or a nuclear medicine study, schedule your DEXA exam at least one week after those tests.

• At most centers, if you weigh more than 300 pounds, only your forearm will be scanned. Our Eldersburg and Perry Hall centers can accommodate people weighing up to 350 pounds.


What should you bring to your procedure?


• Prescription or referral from your physician

• List of medications you take

• Insurance cards

• Medical history


What will you experience during your DEXA scan?


Upon arrival


• A technologist will take you to the exam room, ask you some medical questions, and explain what you can expect during your test.


• You will need to remove any metal or plastic from the part of your body being examined and change into a gown.


During your DEXA exam


• Depending on whether your hip, spine, or wrist is being scanned, you will either lie on a table or sit in a chair. You may lie with your legs straight or with your lower legs resting on a platform to elevate them slightly.


• The scan will take about 30 minutes.


After your DEXA scan


• You can leave immediately after your DEXA scan.


• The radiologist will review your scans and send the results to your physician.

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