Purpose

Today, doctors are better equipped to detect and treat bone loss in its earliest stages so as to prevent the disease or lessen its impact. Also, several drug therapies now on the market have been shown to be clinically effective in slowing down or reversing the bone-loss process.

Just as no physician would prescribe a medication for hypertension without first taking the patient’s blood pressure, the diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis should begin with an objective, quantifiable measurement of the patient’s bone mass or bone density.

Preparation

Unless instructed otherwise by one of our clinicians, eat normally on the day of the exam; but avoid taking calcium supplements for at least 24 hours prior to your appointment.

Wear loose, comfortable clothing. Sweat suits and other casual attire without zippers, buttons, grommets or any metal are preferred.

You should not have had a barium study, radioisotope injection, oral or intravenous contrast material from a CT scan or MRI within seven days prior to your DXA test.

Procedure

Bone densitometry, using an advanced technology called DXA (short for Dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry), safely, accurately and painlessly measure bone density and the mineral content of bone. During a comprehensive bone evaluation with DXA, the patient lies comfortably still on a padded table while the DXA unit scans one or more areas, usually the fracture-prone spine or the hip.

Unlike typical x-ray machines, radiation exposure during bone densitometry is extremely low—less than the radiation exposure during a coast-to-coast airline flight. The entire process takes only minutes to complete, depending on the number of sites scanned. It involves no injections or invasive procedures, and patients remain fully clothed.

How long does the procedure take? 

The average length of time is about 20-30 minutes.