Bone Densitometry (DXA)

Bone Densitometry, using advanced technology called DXA (short for dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry), safely, accurately, and painlessly measures bone mineral density. This is especially important for women at increased risk for having osteoporosis.

Unlike typical x-ray machines, radiation exposure during bone densitometry is extremely low- less than the radiation exposure during a coast-to-coast airline flight.  During a comprehensive examination with DXA, the patient lays comfortably still on a padded table while the DXA unit scans two or more areas, usually the fracture- prone hip and spine.

Bone Densitometry Using DXA

  • Simple, proven x-ray method
  • Safe, low radiation
  • Helps determine whether you are at high, increased, or low risk for fracturing a bone
  • Fast and comfortable- the entire process only takes minutes
  • Easy and painless- non-invasive and no injections
  • Patient remains clothed the entire time

DXA Bone Scan and Analysis

Most common examination sites are fracture prone hip and spine.  Bone Mineral Density (BMD) is calculated and compared to normal BMD values, matched for age and sex. A low BMD by DXA may predict the likelihood of osteoporosis and fracture and can help determine a treatment plan.

The DXA system produces test results instantly.  Along with the information you provide about your family and medical history, lifestyle and diet, the data derived from the DXA test will be used by your physician to help determine whether  you are at high, increased, or low risk of fracture.  Based on this information, he can decide whether you would benefit from additional therapy.

Preparing for Bone Densitometry Scanning

  • Unless instructed otherwise, eat normally on the day of the exam, but avoid taking calcium supplements for at least 24 hours prior to your appointment.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing that does not have metal.  Sweat suits and other casual attire without zippers, buttons, or any metal are preferred.
  • You should not have had a barium study, radioisotope injection, oral or intravenous contrast material from a CT scan or MRI within seven days prior to your DXA test.


Osteoporosis is a potentially painful and crippling disease that affects 23 million American women, 75% of whom don’t even know that they have it.  While some bone loss can be expected as part of the normal aging process, osteoporosis is a dangerous disease.  It occurs when bone loss is so severe it causes bones to become porous, brittle and likely to break.  Half of all women past menopause have, or are at high risk, of developing osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is often called the “silent disease” because it does not produce symptoms until a fracture occurs.  The bones most likely to break are the hip, spine, and forearm.  One in three postmenopausal women will experience an osteoporosis-related fracture.  In fact, a woman’s risk of hip fracture alone- the most painful and debilitating osteoporotics fractures- equals her combined risk of developing breast, uterine, or ovarian cancer.

In short, the prevalence of osteoporosis has reached epidemic proportions, with related costs to our healthcare system exceeding $14 billions annually.  The personal consequences of untreated osteoporosis may be loss of Independence, pain, deformity, disability and death.

Am I At Increased Risk of Having Osteoporosis?

Your chances of developing osteoporosis are greater if you are:

  • Female
  • Fair Complected
  • Thin or small framed
  • Approaching or past menopause
  • Milk intolerant or have a low calcium intake
  • A cigarette smoker or drink alcohol in excess
  • Taking thyroid medication
  • Taking steroid-based drugs for asthma, arthritis, or cancer
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Chronic intestinal disorders
  • Sedentary
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