A DEXA scan (also known as a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scan or a bone-density test) uses low-dose X-rays to measure your bone mass. This test can help doctors diagnose or measure your risk of osteoporosis or its precursor, osteopenia, which is low bone mass.
Osteoporosis—a disease that occurs when you lose too much bone or don’t make enough—weakens your bones, increases your risk of fractures and challenges your ability to live an active lifestyle. As you age, your doctor may recommend monitoring your bone mass over time through a DEXA scan. DEXA scans are the only imaging capable of detecting osteoporosis before a fracture occurs, allowing you and your doctor to plan and start treatment quickly.
The most common type of DEXA scan—known as a central DEXA scan—measures the bone mass in your hips and spine. This test is completely painless and noninvasive.
Touchstone Medical Imaging provides DEXA bone density scans at locations in Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas. Same-day and next-day appointments, as well as early morning, evening and weekend hours, are often available.
You lose bone throughout life as part of the body’s natural process of replacing old bone with new. Around age 30, the rate of bone loss begins to outpace the rate of bone replacement, setting the stage for the potential of osteoporosis.
Anyone can develop osteoporosis, but women have a higher risk than men. Your risk for osteoporosis increases with these factors:
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends bone density testing to help prevent fractures for:
In addition, ask your primary care doctor if a DEXA scan would be appropriate if you fall into one of the following categories:
Recommendations for testing frequency are determined by your risk factors and previous testing results. You may need one DEXA test initially and then you may not need another test for up to 15 years if you have healthy bone density. However, if your scan indicates you have osteopenia or osteoporosis, you may need DEXA scans more frequently. Your doctor can advise you on DEXA frequency.
A DEXA scan at Touchstone Medical Imaging requires minimal preparation. You can eat and drink normally leading up to the test, but if you use calcium supplements, you shouldn’t take them for 24 hours before the scan.
Dress in loose, comfortable clothes. Avoid belts or clothing that have zippers or metal buttons. Leave jewelry at home. If you wear glasses, you may need to remove them during the scan.
Tell your doctor and the imaging team ahead of time if you are pregnant or have recently had an imaging scan involving barium or contrast material. In these instances, your DEXA scan may be delayed or administered with extra safety precautions.
You will lie still on a table positioned between an X-ray generator below and a detector above. The detector will move slowly over your hip and spine. The test typically takes no more than 30 minutes.
A Touchstone Medical Imaging radiologist will interpret your results, which will include two scores: a T-score and a Z-score.
The T-score indicates how much bone you have compared with a healthy 30-year-old of the same sex. Your T score results may indicate:
Your Z-score shows how your bone mass compares to someone of the same age and body size. A score higher than -2.0 is normal.
Our radiologist will send your results to the doctor who ordered your test. If the results reveal that you have osteoporosis or are at risk for it, your doctor will recommend ways to improve your bone health and reduce your fracture risk.
Our Touchstone Medical Imaging technologists guide you through your appointment to ensure a friendly, welcoming experience. Our high-quality equipment and team of subspecialized, fellowship-trained radiologists deliver precise results that your doctors can rely on as they make treatment and lifestyle recommendations to promote your bone health.
Do you need a DEXA scan? Touchstone Medical Imaging offers DEXA scans at multiple locations, often with same-day and next-day appointment options. Find the Touchstone Medical Imaging Center closest to you, then, with your doctor’s referral, call to schedule an appointment.