What is an Bone Density Scan?

There are a few different names this test can be called: DEXA/DXA scan (dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry), bone mass measurement, or bone mineral density test.

A DXA scan is a very low dose x-ray scan that measures the strength and density of your bones. These results help your physician evaluate and/or diagnose if you have osteoporosis – a disorder characterized by bones that become more fragile – or brittle – and more likely to break.

What is osteoporosis and who does it effect?

Osteoporosis is a condition in which the calcium in your bones gradually decreases, causing them to become weak and brittle. Women 65 years and older and women who have gone through menopause are at more risk for developing osteoporosis. Regardless of your sex or age, your physician may recommend you have a bone density test due to other risk factors and indications.

Risk factors and Indications for DXA scan:

  • Women age 65 years and older
  • Men age 70 years and older
  • Women post-menopausal
  • A close relative with history of osteoporosis
  • Adults with fragility fractures (broken bones NOT due to trauma or high impact accidents)
  • History of cigarette smoking or heaving alcohol drinking
  • A person being considered for osteoporosis therapy and/or being treated and monitored for osteoporosis
  • Certain diseases, conditions or medications known to cause bone loss

For more information on osteoporosis visit: https://www.rheumatology.org/I-Am-A/Patient-Caregiver/Diseases-Conditions/Osteoporosis

What are the benefits?

Bone density scans are quick, easy and painless.

Results from this scan allows your doctor to keep track and trend your bone density health over a long period of time. This can help them proactively monitor and/or treat your bone health before fractures from brittle bones occur.

At Grand River Health, we also provide a FRAX score, which is a diagnostic tool to calculate a 10-year probability risk assessment of you having a major osteoporotic fracture or a hip fracture.

What are the risks of having a DXA scan?

The x-rays emitted during a DXA scan are very low dose and do not pose a significant risk.

How do I prepare?

You will be instructed to not take any calcium or vitamin D supplements 24 hours before your exam. Please notify the scheduler and technologist if you have had any recent (within the last 7 days) imaging studies that required contrast material, as that can interfere with the accuracy of the scan. Wear loose, comfortable clothing, avoiding any metal like zippers, buttons, or bras with underwire. You may be asked to change into a gown and remove any jewelry or belongings that may interfere with the scan.

Family, friends, and children are not allowed in the exam room during the scan. If you need to bring kids to your appointment, please bring someone to watch them in the waiting room during your exam.

When will I know my results?

You will receive your results from your ordering physician within a few business days, unless otherwise stated. A radiologist- a doctor who specializes in reading imaging tests- will read and compile a report of the image findings, which will be sent to the physician who ordered the test. If you have not heard anything about your results within 7 days, please call your doctor’s office to see if they have received the results.

Please call for available appointment times: 970.625.1100