Bone Density Scan/DEXA Scan
Bone density scanning, also called dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA), is an enhanced form of X-ray technology used to measure bone loss. Bone density scanning is the most accurate method to diagnose osteoporosis and is also considered an accurate estimator of bone fracture risk.
Osteoporosis often affects women after menopause. It involves a gradual loss of calcium, as well as structural changes to the bones, causing the bones to become thinner, fragile and more likely to break.
DEXA is also effective in tracking the effects of treatment for osteoporosis and other conditions that cause bone loss.
The DEXA test can also assess an individual’s risk for developing fractures. The risk of fracture is affected by age, body weight, history of prior fracture, family history of osteoporotic fractures and life style issues such as cigarette smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. These factors are taken into consideration when deciding if a patient needs therapy.
Download Bone Density Tests PDF
Download Top 10 Myths About Osteoporosis PDF
How is a Bone Density Scan Performed?
This quick, painless and noninvasive exam is done on an outpatient basis by a technician in the Silver Cross Center for Women’s Health.
- During the exam, you will lie on a padded table. An X-ray generator is located below you and an imaging device, or detector, is positioned above.
- To assess the bone density in your spine, your legs will be supported on a padded box to flatten the pelvis and lower your spine.
- To assess the bone density in your hip, your foot will be placed in a brace that rotates the hip inward. In both cases, the detector is slowly passed over the area, generating images on a computer monitor.
The DEXA machine sends a thin, invisible beam of low-dose X-rays with two distinct energy peaks through the bones being examined. One peak is absorbed mainly by soft tissue and the other by bone. The soft tissue amount can be subtracted from the total, and what remains is a patient’s bone mineral density. No radiation remains in your body after the test.
Note: Patients who also need a radiological test or nuclear medicine study that includes barium or contrast, should have bone density study first, or wait a week after contrast/barium study.
Who Interprets the Results?
A radiologist in the Silver Cross Center for Women’s Health will analyze the images and send a report to your doctor, who will discuss the results with you.
Your test results will be in the form of two scores:
- T score — This number shows the amount of bone you have compared with a young adult of the same gender with peak bone mass. A score above -1 is considered normal. A score between -1 and -2.5 is classified as osteopenia (low bone mass). A score below -2.5 is defined as osteoporosis. The T score is used to estimate your risk of developing a fracture.
- Z score — This number reflects the amount of bone you have compared with other people in your age group and of the same size and gender. If this score is unusually high or low, it may indicate a need for further medical tests.
Book Your Bone Density Scan Online
Now you can book just one appointment for both your bone density scan and mammogram. Schedule an appointment online with SCHedule Now or call (815) 300-7076. A doctor’s order is required.