Bone density scanning, also called dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA or DEXA) or bone densitometry, is an enhanced form of x-ray technology that is used to measure bone loss.
Who performs the procedure?
A Technologist performs the procedure.
Why is this procedure performed?
This procedure is most often performed to diagnose osteoporosis, a condition that affects women after menopause, but may also be found in men. Osteoporosis involves a gradual loss of calcium, causing the bones to become thinner, more fragile and more likely to break.
DEXA is also effective in tracking the effects of treatment for osteoporosis and other conditions that cause bone loss. The DEXA test can also assess an individual's risk for developing fractures.
Where is the procedure performed?
This procedure is performed in the Radiology Department of UIC, located at 419 West Redwood St., Suite 110, Baltimore, MD 21201.
Is there any prep for this procedure?
You should not take calcium supplements for at least 24 hours before your exam.
What can I expect before the procedure?
Once you arrive at University Imaging Center, you will have to register at the front desk. Please have your insurance information ready at this time. After registration, you will be taken to the Radiology Department where you will be instructed to remove all clothing and jewelry in the area to be examined.
What can I expect during the procedure?
During the DEXA examination, which measures bone density in the hip and spine, the patient lies on a padded table. An x-ray generator is located below the patient and an imaging device, or detector, is positioned above.
To assess the spine, the patient's legs are supported on a padded box to flatten the pelvis and lower (lumbar) spine. To assess the hip, the patient's foot is placed in a brace that rotates the hip inward. In both cases, the detector is slowly passed over the area, generating images on a computer monitor.
What can I expect after the procedure?
You can resume normal activity and the results will be sent to your doctor.
Are there any risks to this procedure?
There is a very low risk that one may have from the exposure to radiation. DEXA emits a very low dose of radiation.
Are there any alternatives to this procedure?
No alternatives are available for this procedure.
How do I schedule an appointment?
Please contact the Radiology Access Center at 410-328-3225 to schedule an appointment.
For more information about the Department of Diagnostic Radiology and Nuclear Medicine or to contact one of our radiologists, call the University Physicians Consultation and Referral Service at 1-800-492-5538 (patients) or 1-800-373-4111 (physicians).
This page was last updated: January 22, 2014