DEXA (Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry) or bone densitometry uses low strength X-rays to measure the density and mineral content of your bones. The amount of X-ray used is very small - less than one-tenth of what is used in a chest X-ray. This test is a valuable tool for diagnosing osteoporosis, which often has no symptoms until you suffer a fracture. DEXA can diagnose the disease at its earliest stages, which means you can begin receiving treatment to protect your bones sooner.
• Please arrive at least 20 minutes before your appointment and bring your referral. If you need to reschedule or cancel, call 24 hours in advance.
• Let us know what medications you take, including non-prescription medicines and supplements. You may take Fosamax and multivitamins before your exam.
• Tell us if you are or may be pregnant or if you are breastfeeding.
• Do not take any calcium supplements for 24 hours before your exam.
• If you have had an X-ray that used any contrast material (dye) or a nuclear medicine study, schedule your DEXA exam at least one week after those tests.
• At most centers, if you weigh more than 300 pounds, only your forearm will be scanned.
• Prescription or referral from your physician
• List of medications you take
• Insurance cards
• Medical history
• A technologist will take you to the exam room, ask you some medical questions, and explain what you can expect during your test.
• You will need to remove any metal or plastic from the part of your body being examined and change into a gown.
During your DEXA exam
• Depending on whether your hip, spine, or wrist is being scanned, you will either lie on a table or sit in a chair. You may lie with your legs straight or with your lower legs resting on a platform to elevate them slightly.
• The scan will take about 30 minutes.
After your DEXA scan
• You can leave immediately after your DEXA scan.
• The radiologist will review your scans and send the results to your physician.
Back to top