DEXA stands for dual photon X-ray absorptiometry, which is a simple scanning test to determine if you have or are at risk for Osteoporosis – a disease that cause bones to become more fragile over time. In the past, Osteoporosis was detected only after a broken bone. With the DEXA Scan, X-ray scanning can determine if bones are starting to thin before a bone is broken.
A Bone Density Exam (DXA) is the only test to diagnose osteoporosis, and is recommended periodically after age 50.
How Do I Know If I Have Osteoporosis? Is It Treatable?
Osteoporosis, like high blood pressure and high cholesterol, is often a silent disorder. It is the most common type of bone disease in which bones become fragile and more likely to fracture. Until recently, Osteoporosis was thought to be a natural consequence of aging. However, with the increased focus on women’s health issues and preventive medical practices, this attitude is changing. There are over 70 clinical studies currently in progress to assess the safety and effectiveness of new therapies to treat this disease. This push by the pharmaceutical industry to develop new therapies, coupled with the increased recognition of the disease as a preventable and treatable condition, bodes well for women who want to maintain independent and active lifestyles.
How Do I Prepare for a DEXA Scan?
You should not take any calcium supplements the day before or the day of the exam. You should avoid having any exam that requires contrast for seven days before your DEXA scan. Wear loose clothing with no metal.
How the DEXA Scan Is Performed
The patient lies on a padded table. The DEXA machine sends a low-dose X-ray through the bones being examined. The DEXA bone density scan, completed within 10 to 30 minutes, calculates bone loss and estimates your risk of developing a fracture. The FRAX® score estimates your 10-year fracture risk.
Risks for Osteoporosis
- Age over 50
- Small Body / Low Weight
- Menopause (Women)
- Broken Bones
- Low Testosterone (Men)
- Loss of Height
- Family History of Osteoporosis