Bone Densitometry

Bone Density Scan

A bone density scan to assess the strength of the bones and the probability of fracture in people at risk for osteoporosis. Bone density scanning is also effective in tracking the effectiveness of treatment for osteoporosis and other conditions that cause bone loss.

The test, called “dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry” (DEXA), is an enhanced form of X-ray. DEXA scanning, the most accurate test for bone density, measures bone mineral density and compares it to normal levels. While standard X-rays show changes in bone density after about 40 percent of bone loss, a DEXA scan can detect changes after about 1 percent change. DEXA is most often performed on the lower spine and hips. Portable bone density devices, including some that use ultrasound rather than X-rays, measure bones in the wrist, fingers and heel.

For most women, bone density measurements should begin at age 50 or after menopause. Measurements are evaluated based on your age, weight, and gender to determine your bone status. 

What to Expect

The bone density scan is a simple procedure. You will be asked to lie on a padded surface. The scanner arm passes over the areas of interest, usually the hip and spine. You may need to change out of your clothes. This procedure takes approximately 20 minutes and no special preparation is required.

Please check with your insurance provider for coverage. Remember, osteoporosis is preventable and treatable!

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