WHAT IS A BONE DENSITY SCAN?

  • A bone density scan or DXA/DEXA scan uses a small amount of X-ray to measure the amount of mineral in the bones of your lower back, hip, and sometimes forearm.
  • Bone density tests are usually done on bones that are most likely to break.

WHAT DOES THE BONE DENSITY SCAN MEASURE?

  • Because bone density can vary from one location in your body to another, a measurement taken at your heel isn't as accurate a predictor of fracture risk as is a measurement taken at your spine or hip. 

HOW DO I PREPARE FOR A BONE DENSITY SCAN?

  • Virtually no preparation is needed for this test.
  • Bone density tests are easy, fast, and painless.
  • Be sure to tell your radiologist beforehand if you have recently had a barium exam or contrast material injected for a CT scan or nuclear medicine test. Contrast materials may interfere with your bone density test.

WHAT CAN BE EXPECTED DURING A BONE DENSITY SCAN?

  • You will lie on a padded platform while a mechanical arm passes over your body. 
  • The amount of radiation you're exposed to is very low, much less than the amount emitted during a traditional chest X-ray. 
  • The test takes anywhere between 10 to 30 minutes to complete.