If you have never had a DEXA scan before, you might not know what to expect. This brief guide is designed to answer any questions you may have.
What is a DEXA Scan?
A bone density scan, also called a bone mineral scan, DXA, DEXA or bone densitometry, is a form of very low radiation x-ray technology that is used to measure bone loss. It is most often used to diagnose osteoporosis, which involves a gradual loss of calcium, causing bones to become thinner and more prone to break. A DEXA test can also be used to assess an individual’s risk for incurring fractures.
How is a DEXA done?
A technician will ask you to lie on your back on an examination table. A movable arm will pass over your body, and x-rays that pass through your body will be recorded to allow the scanner to determine the density of your bones.
What to expect
Having a DEXA examination isn’t painful or uncomfortable, and you will be able to resume all normal activities after your procedure.
Once you check in at reception, you will be shown to a small private changing room where you will be given a gown to cover yourself (depending on the area to be scanned). You will be asked to remove all necklaces, earrings and metallic objects and will be provided with a secure locker to place your valuables.
Once you have changed, the technician will bring you to a private area to discuss the scan and ask you some questions.
The whole procedure normally takes between 10-30 minutes.
What to expect afterwards
Your radiologist will examine your scans and send the film and report to your referring doctor.
What to Tell us
Please tell the technician if you are pregnant, or suspect you might be pregnant.
If you have recently had a barium examination or have been injected with a contrast material including a nuclear medicine examination. If so, the technician may advise that you should wait 10 to 14 days before undergoing a DEXA test.
How to Prepare
On the day of the exam you may eat normally. You should not take calcium supplements for at least 24 hours before your exam.
It is best to wear comfortable clothing that have no metal zippers, belts or buttons in the abdominal or pelvic areas. You may be asked to remove jewellery, eyeglasses and metal objects that could interfere with the x-ray images.
Bring any previous x-ray films and bone density test results with you to the appointment in case they are needed for comparison.