How To Read Dexa Scan?

December 9, 2010

Bone density scanning or DEXA scan, short for dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, is a derivative of x-ray technology. This is advancement in the technology that has been employed for measurement of bone density and loss. It is today accepted as the standard method of measurement of bone mineral density.

X-rays or radiographs are non invasive medical practices for testing that enable health care providers in their diagnosis and in determining the appropriate treatments. This procedure as with standard x-rays requires exposure of the part of the body being investigated to a small dose of ionizing radiation. This helps produce images of the interiors of the body because of the varying density levels. X-rays are among the oldest and most commonly used practices in modern medicine. Dexa scans are in most cases conducted on the areas of lower spine and hips, but at times the entire body may be scanned, as is usually the case for children and at times adults. Depending on the area being scanned there are two methods that are usually employed with central dexa examinations. The first focuses on central skeletal areas like the hips and spine while peripheral dexa scans look at the peripheral areas of the skeletal structure such as the wrists, feet, or fingers.

Understanding the test results may not always be easy for a lay person and some of us may tend to get confused. A radiologist, who is specifically qualified and possesses the expertise, would be the best interpreter of these results and will analyze the images for you. A signed report and the results are then sent to your doctor who recommended the scan. Your doctor will then discuss the test results and outcome with you. Other health care experts like rheumatologists and endocrinologists would also be capable of interpreting the results.

If you wish to analyze the results yourself try and focus on two scores. The T score shows a comparison of the bone mass you have as opposed to that of a young adult (same gender). While a score above -1 is regarded as normal, anything between -1 and -2.5 would be termed as osteopenia or low bone mass. Anything lower than -2.5 however; would be classified as osteoporosis. Unlike the T score which shows your bone mass in comparison to a youngster the Z score will reveal it in comparison to your age group, in the same gender and body size. Any significant variation, whether high or low, would suggest a need for further testing.

Submitted by N on December 9, 2010 at 11:09

Read more questions in General