Bone Density (DEXA)

A Bone Density test commonly known as DEXA or DXA is used to diagnose osteoporosis (a condition resulting in the weakness of bones) and a person’s risk of vertebral fractures. DEXA helps estimate the density of your bones and the chances of breaking a bone.

Bone Density (DEXA)

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When to test

What is a Bone Density test?

A Bone Density test commonly known as DEXA or DXA is used to diagnose osteoporosis (a condition resulting in the weakness of bones) and a person’s risk of vertebral fractures. DEXA helps estimate the density of your bones and the chances of breaking a bone. DEXA/DXA uses a small dose of radiation to produce pictures of the spine, hip, or forearm to measure bone density.

Who should get a Bone Density test?

Osteoporosis targets women much more often than men, and it becomes more common after menopause and with advancing age. As a result, health care providers recommend bone density testing for women who have been through menopause and are at least 65 years old. In addition, there are certain characteristics that put people at higher risk for fracture, so health care providers sometimes recommend testing in men or women younger than 65 years, who have one or more risk factors. Factors that increase a person’s risk of fracture and may lead to earlier bone density testing include: Cigarette smoking, Long-term use of steroid (glucocorticoid) medications such as prednisone, Low body weight (less than 127 lbs or 58 kg), Rheumatoid arthritis, History of a non-traumatic or low trauma bone fracture in self or parents (e.g. breaking a bone after falling from standing height or less), Excessive alcohol consumption (three or more servings a day)A disorder strongly associated with osteoporosis, such as diabetes, untreated hyperthyroidism, hyperparathyroidism, early menopause, chronic malnutrition or malabsorption, or chronic liver disease. In case there is evidence of bone disease or bone weakness, your doctor may also suggest you take the Vitamin D 25-OH test to check for vitamin D deficiency. In addition, if you have swelling or pain in and around your joints, your doctor may even advise you take the Rheumatoid Arthritis Factor test.

Is radiation involved in a DEXA scan?

Yes. The amount of radiation that’s used is minimal, amounting to roughly the same radiation that an average person gets from the environment in a day.

How is a DEXA scan performed?

During the DEXA scan, you will have to lie on a flat, open X-ray table. A large scanning arm will be moved slowly over your body and a narrow beam of low-dose X-rays will pass through the part of your body being examined, which is usually your hip and lower spine. Multiple images will be taken and displayed on a monitor. You will be instructed to hold your breath for a few seconds while the x-ray images will be taken, to reduce the possibility of blurred images.

How long does a DEXA scan take?

The complete DEXA/ bone density scan, from positioning to obtaining and verifying the images, takes about 15-20 minutes.

How do I prepare? Do I need to fast?

Women who are or may be pregnant should tell their doctor prior to the exam. There is no fasting required. There is some risk of radiation exposure. Just bring your LabFinder Order and Insurance Card to your appointment.

When will I receive my results?

Once the Bone Density scan is completed, you will receive your results within 3-5 business days in your LabFinder portal.

Procedure

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* This is for educational purposes only. LabFinder does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All users should consult with a medical provider in person for any health concerns.