Bone Density: What Is DEXA?
Dual photon x-ray absorbtiometry? That sounds like something that happened to Bruce Banner (okay, those were gamma rays…). But we promise, you won’t turn green from what is more simply known as a DEXA scan.
A DEXA scan is also called a bone density scan. This test is used to test your bone density and determine your risk for future fracture. This test involves a small amount of radiation and evaluates the density or strength of your bones. It can analyze different bones, but is most often used to evaluate the spine and hip.
An exam takes 10 minutes and is easy for most: all you have to do is hold still while lying on your back and our computers will do the rest. On the day of your exam you will be asked to avoid taking any calcium supplements as they interfere with the test. If you have metal in your back or hip like a spinal fusion rod or hip replacement your exam will be slightly different. For these cases we use another bone for analysis, typically the forearm.
The test will calculate a score which estimates fracture risk. All sorts of data are taken into account, from age to gender to race, and your bone density will be compared to a healthy 30-year-old’s average.
Bone density results will fall into three ranges: normal, osteopenia or osteoporotic. Osteoporosis is the loss of bone mass often found in the elderly which makes bones brittle or weak and susceptible to breaking. Osteopenia indicates bone density less than expected but not yet reaching osteoporosis levels. While osteoporosis is serious with serious implications for future health, it is also treatable – and treat it is what we want for you! If you show signs of bone density loss there are a variety of medication options and lifestyle changes which can be considered.
While a DEXA can’t cure what ails, it can help target and identify what does so that treatment can be started to get you on the road to your best possible health!
Originally published 4/8/14 on diagnosticimagingcenterskc.com.