Bone Densitometry Unit
What is bone densitometry?
Bone Densitometry is an exam used by physicians to assess bone density (the mineral content of your bones), in an effort to diagnose bone loss.
What is bone loss?
As we grow older our bones normally lose some of their calcium. Loss of calcium weakens our bones and makes us more prone to fractures. Mild loss is referred to as osteopenia. More severe loss is known as osteoporosis.
Who is at risk of osteoporosis?
Women are most at risk. This is especially true in post-menopausal women and more so in Caucasian and Asian women than in women of African-American or Hispanic descent.
Various medical conditions as well as use of certain medications can also speed up bone loss.
Men can also develop osteoporosis.
How should I prepare for a DEXA scan?
You may eat normally on the day of the test. If you are taking calcium supplements, avoid taking these for 24 hours prior to the exam. Wear loose comfortable clothing without buttons, zippers or snaps if possible. Inform your doctor and the technologist if you have received barium or any other contrast media or radioisotope during a CT or other scan in the last 10-14 days. If so you may have to reschedule for a later time. As always inform your doctor and the technologist if there is a chance you may be pregnant.
How is the exam performed?
The established standard in use today is dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, or DEXA.
Measurements are most commonly taken of your lower spine and both hips. The exam is preformed with the patients comfortably lying down on their backs. During the spinal portion of the examination your legs will be raised and resting on a soft foam cushion which straightens your spine. When examining your hips your feet will be placed in a brace to rotate your hips inward. The scanner slowly passes above the areas of interest as it collects information which will be used to make a diagnosis.
The exam usually lasts about 15 minutes. Your doctor will usually have the results for you in a few days.