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Tests and Procedures

Bone Densitometry (DEXA) Exam

Bone Densitometry (DEXA) Exam is the most reliable exam to determine if a person has even the earliest stages of bone loss associated with osteoporosis.

You will be asked to lie on a table for this exam. Your shoulders, hips and feet will be positioned by the technologist. You will need to lie still when the X-rays are being taken.

The procedure is painless, non-invasive and safe. Radiation exposure from the X-ray beam is low (less than a standard chest X-ray). It uses a very small dose of radiation emitted through a beam so focused that the technologist can safely sit next to the examination table to monitor the procedure on a computer.

While osteoporosis occurs in all bones, the DEXA test measures bone density in the lumbar spine and hip, the most common site of osteoporosis related fractures. Your bone density is compared to two standards known as age matched and young normal. The aged matched reading compares your bone density to what is expected in someone of your age, sex and size. The young normal reading compares your bone density to the estimated peak of bone density of a healthy young adult of the same sex. Fracture risk and osteoporosis are defined by comparison with peak bone density.

Time: Approximately 30 minutes


Plan to arrive five minutes before your appointment to allow time for admitting. You will need to bring your doctor's order, and a list of all the medications you are currently taking.

Please wear comfortable clothing, as you will be lying down for the exam. Do not wear clothing that has metal snaps, zippers, buckles or buttons in the chest or hip area. For women, please do not wear a bra with underwires.

If it is necessary for you to have other tests such as a barium enema, IVP or CT Scan, which use a contrast medium, please reschedule the DEXA so that it is done prior to or at least a week after the other tests. The use of these materials may interfere with the accuracy of the DEXA results. Otherwise, there is no special preparation necessary. You may take medications and eat before your appointment.

About Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis occurs when too little bone is being formed, when too much bone is lost, or a combination of both. Factors such as menopause, aging, hormonal diseases, certain medications (thyroid, hormone, steroids) and inadequate calcium intake are just a few of the causes. These factors can cause weakening of the bones and increase your risk for fractures.

Your doctor will let you know the results of the bone density exam. Please allow at least five working days before you contact your physician for the results.

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