What Is a Dexa Scan?

There are many scans physicians can use to learn more about your body and form diagnoses. One test they can use is a DEXA scan, which can help them learn more about bone density. Learning more about what a DEXA scan is can help you be more comfortable during the procedure and better prepare beforehand. Here's everything you need to know about DEXA scans.

What Is a DEXA Scan?

A DEXA scan is a medical procedure that tests how dense and strong your bones are. DEXA is a dual-energy X-ray scan that is also known sometimes as DXA. When performing this scan, professionals focus on the hip and the spine to gather information about how dense your bones are. In some situations, they may perform the scan on your forearm instead. The DEXA scan can help physicians better understand how likely you are to get fractures in your bones.

A DEXA scanner is a machine that uses two X-ray beams of different energies. One of the beams from the machine is high-energy, and the other is low-energy. The two beams can penetrate materials at different rates because of their varying energy levels. While producing the beams, the machine measures the amount of the rays that pass through your bones. This allows the machine to gather information about how dense your bones are.

Why Do We Use DEXA Scans?

Physicians may order DEXA scans to learn more about your body. This can help them find a diagnosis if you're having specific symptoms. We can also use DEXA scans as a routine measure to assess at-risk groups for risk of fractures. For example, women ages 65 and older may be more likely to experience symptoms related to low bone density.

A person may also be more likely to experience problems with bone density if they have a parent who has broken a hip in the past. You can always speak with your physician and review your medical history to determine if getting a DEXA scan is the right decision for you. These are some risk factors that may indicate a DEXA scan is necessary:

  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Intestinal disorders
  • Low body weight
  • Genetic bone disease

Do DEXA Scans Have Any Risks?

It's normal to be worried about medical procedures, especially those that contain X-ray technology. The more you expose yourself to X-rays, the higher your chance of developing cancer may be, but DEXA scans are fast procedures and don't emit high amounts of radiation for long periods of time. According to the CDC, radiation from a DEXA scan is "similar to the amount of radiation used in common x-rays." The risks associated with having a DEXA scan done may be very mild, depending on your specific situation.

How To Prepare for a DEXA Scan

DEXA scans are often fast procedures that don't require much preparation or wait time after the procedure. However, there are some things you can do to prepare for your exam to ensure it goes smoothly. These are some things your physician may recommend:

  • Tell your doctor immediately if you're pregnant or think you may be pregnant.
  • Wear loose-fitting and comfortable clothing so you can lie down easily.
  • Avoid wearing anything with metal, such as buttons, zippers, and buckles.

What To Expect During Your DEXA Scan

Unlike other types of imaging, DEXA scans are relatively fast and hassle-free. When you get an MRI or a CT scan, you can expect to lie inside a closed ring or tunnel. For DEXA scans, however, you only have to lie on an open table. The technician may ask you to stay as still as you can while they pass the scanner over your body. In most cases, you can go home as soon as the test is done.

The result of the scan is a T-score that shows how much higher or lower your score is than a healthy person around 30 years old. The results use the age of 30 because this is often when bones become their strongest. When you review your results, be aware that the lower the score is, the weaker your bones are. You can consult with your physician to learn more about what this means and how you may treat low bone density. These are some ranges for DEXA scan results:

  • -2.5 or lower indicates osteoporosis
  • -1.0 to -2.5 indicates osteopenia, which is low bone density
  • 1.0 and above indicates normal bone density

Why Choose Grapevine Imaging?

Here at Grapevine, we ensure the patient is comfortable and cared for through every procedure. Whether you're a patient learning more about imaging or a doctor who wants to make a referral, we can work with you and help you find the information you need. While we don't offer DEXA scan services as of now, we still provide other medical imaging and are happy to answer any questions you may have. We can handle your other imaging needs such as X-ray, CT scan, and MRI. These are some benefits you may experience when you get imaging done with our team:

  • Expertise: Every person at Grapevine Imaging loves what they do, and that shows in the service we provide. We specialize in technology and pride ourselves in having a team of highly competent and board-certified professionals to make your experience as enjoyable as possible.
  • Compassion: We know that imaging isn't often comfortable or fun, and we want to ensure you have a positive experience when you visit us. Our team goes above and beyond to ensure you feel safe and understand the process you're going through.
  • Convenience: Our central location makes us a convenient option for patients in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The team of technicians here at Grapevine Imaging can help you through your procedure, getting you in and out and back to your day.

If you need imaging services, you can visit our website to learn more about the process and the services we offer. When we receive an imaging order from your doctor, we can contact you to schedule an appointment that works best for you. With our competitive pricing, payment plans, friendly experts, and insurance acceptance, we're positive we can help you get the imaging you need.

Tibia and Fibula Bone by Nino Liverani is licensed with Unsplash License

2401 Ira E. Woods Ave, #600
Grapevine, TX 76051

(817) 488-9991