DXA Bone Scan

Every day, physicians use radiography, or X-rays, to view and evaluate bone fractures and other injuries of the musculoskeletal system. However, a plain X-ray test is not the best way to assess bone density. To detect osteoporosis accurately, doctors use an enhanced, low radiation form of X-ray technology called dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA, pronounced DEXA). DXA bone densitometry is today’s established standard for measuring bone mineral density (BMD). DXA is a quick, painless procedure for measuring bone loss and is the most often used method to diagnose osteoporosis. The DXA test can also assess your risk for developing fractures. If your bone density is found to be low, you and your physician can work together on a treatment plan to help prevent fractures before they occur. DXA is also effective in tracking the effects of treatment for osteoporosis or for other conditions that cause bone loss.

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis involves a gradual weakening of bone mass, causing the bones to become thinner, more fragile, and more likely to break. The hip, spine, and wrist become especially susceptible to fractures, but any bone can be affected. Osteoporosis is often called a “silent disease” because bone loss occurs without symptoms. People may not know that they have osteoporosis until their bones become so weak that a sudden strain, bump, or fall causes a fracture or a vertebra to collapse.

Risk factors include:

  • Personal history of fracture after age 50
  • History of fracture in a close relative
  • Being thin and/or having a small frame
  • Advanced age
  • A family history of osteoporosis
  • Estrogen deficiency as a result of menopause, especially before 45 years in age
  • Abnormal absence of menstrual periods (amenorrhea)
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Low lifetime calcium intake
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Use of certain medications (corticosteroids, chemotherapy, anticonvulsants, and others)
  • Low testosterone levels in men
  • Current cigarette smoking
  • Excessive use of alcohol

Osteoporosis can be effectively treated!

Treatment is tailored to your individual needs, and may include medications or hormone replacement therapies that are known to effectively treat the disease.

Knowing your bone density is important and will help you take better care of yourself, prevent injuries, and avoid the suffering caused by osteoporosis.

How to learn your bone density

Schedule a DXA screen:

  • Discuss your risk factors with your primary care provider. He or she will recommend a bone density screening if it is appropriate to your needs, and will provide you with a referral
  • Screening is recommended for all women over age 65
  • A DXA screening is simple and quick, and takes only about 15 minutes while lying on a cushioned table
  • To schedule your DXA screening, have your referral from your primary physician ready and call Pacific Medical Centers at 1.888.4PACMED
  • Make sure that you have not had any gastroenterology or nuclear medicine testing done two weeks prior to your DXA appointment date. Also, remember not to take any calcium supplements on the day of your DXA screen

How to prepare for a bone density scan

Watch our video below and learn how to prepare for your DXA scan.



ISCD Accreditation

Pacific Medical Centers is an ISCD accredited facility.