A bone density, or dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scan (DEXA) scan is a special type of X-ray that measures bone mineral density (BMD).

The type of scan gives information about bone strength or fragility and the risk of fractures or broken bones. A higher bone density normally indicates a lower risk of fracture.

The scan measures the bone mineral content and provides information to your doctor as to whether you have lost a small amount of bone density or a more significant amount, compared with a young normal population, and people of the same age and sex as you. This informs your doctor about your risk of having a fracture, and assists in monitoring bone loss and in planning any preventative therapy or medical treatment.

The most common reason for having this type of scan is to detect possible osteoporosis. Osteoporosis results from loss of bone mineral to a level which potentially increases the risk of fractures.

Procedure

It is a simple examination, involving no injections, and is not painful. Your height and weight is measured to allow the computer to generate the information about your bone density. You are required to lie on a table supported by a cushion whilst you are scanned.

Preparation

No preparation is required for this scan. However, please advise the staff if you have any metallic implants in your spine, artificial hips or metallic screws or pins in your hips. Do not schedule your scan within one week of having had a Barium Meal or Enema, an IVP, a nuclear medicine study or a CT Scan as this may interfere with the accuracy of the scan.

The scan does involve a small dose of radiation. This means this scan may be unsuitable for women that are, or may be pregnant.

Duration

The scan takes approximately 20 – 30 minutes.