The Purpose of a DEXA Scan and Why You Might Need One

DEXA scan stands for Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry, and the purpose of a DEXA scan is to measure bone loss.

This scan is the best standardized method to diagnose osteoporosis and provide an accurate estimate of your risk for future fractures. Let’s discover why many adults need a DEXA scan, and why you might need one too.

A DEXA Scan Is Simple and Easy

Afraid of confined spaces like those used for MRIs or a CT scan? You can rest assured that no such confinement will be necessary during your DEXA scan. This test is done on an open X-ray table with the machine moving across the body. It is quick, non-invasive, and painless!

There is also no need to worry over a lengthy examination, as this scan only takes only about 10-20 minutes.

dexa scan

Who Is Most Likely to Undergo a DEXA Scan?

The DEXA scan assesses the strength of bones and the probability of fractures in people at risk for osteoporosis. Likely candidates for these conditions and injuries primarily include post menopausal women who are now producing much lower levels of estrogen. Bone loss increases each year with the onset of menopause, making bones more fragile and more likely to break.

In addition, this test is recommended for women age 65 and older as well as younger postmenopausal women who have other risk factors for osteoporosis.

However, these women are not the only ones in need of a bone density check. Additional risk factors for both men and women include the following:

  • Those who are taller than 5 feet 7 inches with a small frame and who weigh less than 125 pounds
  • Those who take medications that cause bone loss like corticosteroids, prednisone, Dilantin, certain barbiturates, and high doses of thyroid drugs
  • A personal or maternal history of hip fractures
  • Those who have Type 1 diabetes with liver disease
  • Having a fracture after even a mild trauma
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Smoking and physical inactivity
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Men with rheumatoid arthritis
  • Men with chronic kidney or liver disease
  • Those who drink alcohol and caffeine excessively

Additional risk factors for older individuals include unexplained back pain, and the loss of more than 1 inch in height.

Why You Should Get a DEXA Scan

A DEXA scan won’t predict fractures, though it can provide the relative risk you face for sustaining a fracture. Knowing this risk can help you to make some smart and proactive decisions about treatment for osteoporosis.  In addition, a DEXA scan will also track the effects and successes of any treatments you choose to try.

After testing your results, Southwest Diagnostic Imaging Center will compare your bone density and strength to that of others at your age.

Call Southwest Diagnostic Imaging Center today to speak with a specialist about your personal risk factors and whether a DEXA scan could benefit your health.