Bone Density Testing


What is a DEXA? DEXA is short for Dual Energy X-ray Absorptionmetry. It measures your bone density, looking to see how strong or weak your bones are. This is called either osteoporosis or osteopenia.

Is DEXA safe? The DEXA bone density scan uses a very low dose of radiation. All modern methods are used to minimize the amount of radiation during scanning while providing the benefit of more accurate diagnosis. If you are pregnant or think you might be, be sure to tell your doctor so the best decision can be made regarding your care. If you have not had a chance to discuss your chance of pregnancy with your physician, please notify your bone density technologist before the examination begins.

How to prepare for a DEXA scan examination: We will be scanning the lower back and left hip. Wear loose clothing that can easily be adjusted for the examination when you are lying flat with your knees bent. Gowns are supplied for the examination if the technologist needs you to change clothing. If you have had a barium exam or iodine exam (CT or Upper GI) please advise the scheduler, we would want you to wait at least 7 days for the contrast to leave your system before we do your bone density test. This contrast media could interfere with your results.

What happens during a DEXA examination?

  • You may be instructed to change your clothing if the technologist thinks the articles you are wearing will compromise your study.
  • You will be lying on your back on a padded table for about 5-8 minutes during the scan. You will be instructed to rest your legs up on top of a device to flatten your back, which is comfortable.
  • The examination is less than 15 minutes on the table.
  • If you are in a wheelchair and cannot transfer easily to an examination table, please call ahead of time to ensure we are prepared. If you weigh over 350 pounds, we will be unable to place you onto the scanning bed; so as not to inconvenience you, please call ahead of time so we can reschedule you on a different scanner.

After the DEXA examination: You can resume normal activities. There are no physical results from the examination.

How will I know the results? A print-out will be sent to your physician. Your physician will contact you in the normal way they usually contact you with test results. Please let the technologist know of where your last DEXA or bone density test was performed, this can help assist them in finding any previous studies if needed. If you have any questions, you may call the Radiology Department directly at 503-399-2484.

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