How Is A Dexa Scan Done?

December 9, 2010

What is a DEXA scan?

DEXA stands for 'Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry'. By performing this diagnostic procedure, doctors are able to determine the strength of your bones. As a DEXA scanner helps measure the density of your bones, it is sometimes known as a 'bone densitometer'. A DEXA scan is the most accurate way of measuring the strength of your bones and is preferred because the amount of radiation that is used is lower as compared to other bone strength assessment tests.

How is it Done?

You could go to a hospital to get a DEXA scan done. Alternatively, you can get it done at a private clinic or at your GP surgery. The first thing that a scan technician does is to measure your height and your weight. This test is quite simple and all you need to do is relax while the machine scans your body. You are expected to lie down on a flat, padded table during the procedure. You could keep your clothes on during the scan; only make sure you take off your shoes. The technician would ask you to lie still while you are being scanned.

The technician or doctor measures your bone density at various sites in your body. This will generally be your hips and spine. They might select another site if you have had hip replacement surgery or some spine surgery. The limit of the table's weight holding capacity is 300 pounds. If your body weight exceeds this limit you may be have to go in for a forearm scan. The actual time taken to scan the site is ten minutes, however, make sure you keep aside about an hour for the entire procedure.

What do you need to know before a DEXA scan?

There are a few things you need to take care of before the test. Make sure you let your doctor know your medical history. Also ensure that you wear clothes that are loose and comfortable for the test. Avoid wearing clothes that have buttons made of metal, snaps, or zippers. Also remember not wear a girdle. If you are on any kind of calcium supplements, do not take it 48 hours before your examination. If you have undergone any hip or back surgery do not forget to remind the technician about it. If you are pregnant it is important that you inform the technician about it.

Submitted by N S on December 9, 2010 at 10:29

Read more questions in General