Bone Density Testing
What is a DXA scan?
DXA is a fast, simple and easy examination to evaluate your bone mass. To see how a DXA scan is performed, view the Bone Densitometry movie in our Video Library.
What happens during the exam?
During a bone density exam, all you need to do is lie on your back and let the technologist and the
machine do the work. As you are lying on a padded cushion, scans are taken of your spine and hip to determine your density.
Is the exam safe?
Yes, bone densitometry uses only minimal radiation. The amount is so small that the technologist stays in the room with you. The dose is about 1/10 of a chest x-ray. If you think you may be pregnant, please let your doctor and technologist know.
Will the exam hurt?
No, there is no pain associated with the test. You will be lying on your back for about 10-15 minutes.
If you can’t safely lie on your back, are not able to transfer onto the table or if your weight (350 lbs.)
exceeds the table limit, we may scan your forearm instead from a chair.
Is there any special preparation?
No special preparation is required for bone density testing.
Can I eat and take my medications before the exam?
Yes, you may eat as you normally would. Please do take your regular prescription medications. However, do
not take your vitamins, calcium supplements and Tums/Rolaids the morning of your exam. If you need an antacid, you can take liquid Mylanta or Pepto Bismol.
What should I wear?
Wear comfortable clothing, but please refrain from wearing underwire bras or any clothing with metal snaps or zippers around the waist.
Will I need to do anything during the exam?
Relax, lie still, breathe normally and rest comfortably.
How long does the exam take?
The complete exam should take about 15-20 minutes.
When will I receive my results?
Your results are sent to your referring physician within a week of your appointment.
What does a bone densitometry exam determine?
This test measures your bone mineral density (BMD). The lower your bone mineral density is, the greater
the risk of a fracture. The test is used to:
• Detect low bone density before a person breaks a bone
• Predict a person’s chances of breaking a bone in the future
• Confirm a diagnosis of osteoporosis when a person has already broken a bone
• Determine whether a person’s bone density is increasing, decreasing or remaining stable
• Monitor a person’s response to treatment
* Due to software database restrictions, we are unable to scan patients under the age of 21.
**It is important to have your bone density testing done every two years at the same facility to ensure accurate comparison.
This page is intended as an educational resource only. It is not a substitute for professional care. Please see your physician if you have any concerns about your own health.
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