Bone Densitometry

Bone Densitometry — what is it and how does it work? Bone Densitometry or DEXA scan is an exam process used by physicians to help diagnose the "silent disease," called osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition where bones become weak to the point of breaking. It is often diagnosed after the bone has weakened.

A bone density scan measures the amount of minerals within the bones, which either weakens or strengthens the bone. Taking an x-ray image of the spine, hip, or the whole body helps to determine an average of the bone's density. Upon exposure the bone absorbs two energy levels, which are used to determine the amount of density mass the bone holds. This information, along with other factors, such as age, height, weight, and ethnicity, helps doctors formulate a bone density score that determines a patient's risk of developing osteoporotic disease.13

What to expect during a bone density scan

  • You will be asked to remove any metal, buckles, thick plastics or jewelry.
  • Your name, age, height, weight, and ethnicity will be entered into the computer.
  • You will be asked to lie on your back.

Why might you receive a bone density test?

  • To aid in early detection of osteoporosis
  • To help to monitor the effects of age, diet, or treatment
  • To aid in determining risk of developing osteoporosis

The bone density scan below demonstrates the spine as the region of interest. The mineral levels area also demonstrated in the illustration:

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