A DEXA scan, or dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, is a bone density test that evaluates your bone strength. DEXA scans are the only way to accurately diagnose osteoporosis — a disease that causes porous bones. If you already have an osteoporosis diagnosis, a DEXA scan can assess your risk of bone fractures.
DEXA scans primarily evaluate the mineral content in the bones of the hips and spine. Still, your technologist at One Step Diagnostic can also test the bones in your forearm.
Osteoporosis is a progressive disease that increases your risk of bone fractures. Your bones constantly replace old tissue with fresh, healthy tissue. Osteoporosis is the result of a gap in that process. If you have osteoporosis, your bones lose old tissue faster than your body can replenish them with new tissue.
The small pores that osteoporosis creates can make your bones brittle and easily breakable. A DEXA scan allows your doctor to detect osteoporosis as soon as possible to develop your treatment protocol and prevent bone fractures.
During a DEXA scan, you lie on a table while your technologist helps you shift into the correct position. To help you hold the desired position for viewing your bone density, your technologist may place a device, such as a foam block, underneath your head, legs, or both.
While you hold your position, the DEXA scanner passes over your body. The machine produces two X-ray beams — one high energy and another low energy. It measures how many X-rays pass through the bone. All of the information the DEXA collects creates an image that tells your doctor the density of your bones. The entire test takes just 10-15 minutes.
The resulting images from a DEXA scan show bone in white, while fat and tissue appear darker in juxtaposition. Your technologist uses these results to create a score, which compares your bone density to that of a healthy 30-year-old — the age when bones reach their peak strength. A T-score between -1.0 and -2.5 typically indicates lower-than-average bone density, while a score of -2.5 is a telltale sign of osteoporosis.
If you do have a low T-score, your doctor may prescribe medication to prevent bone loss and recommend lifestyle modifications, such as dietary changes and exercise, to help preserve your bone health.
To learn more about DEXA scans, call One Step Diagnostic or schedule an appointment online today.