Your doctor may order a DEXA scan to measure your bone density. DEXA stands for Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry and is an accurate means of testing the density or solidness of your bones. DEXA scans are especially helpful tools for detecting osteoporosis or its future risk, and most women by age 65 are screened for osteoporosis.

What is osteoporosis?

The word osteoporosis literally means "porous bones." Osteoporosis occurs when bones lose too much density by way of a loss of their protein and mineral content, particularly calcium. After the age of thirty in women, bone density, and therefore, bone strength, naturally lessens. This can lead to fragility and a high risk for breaking should your bones become too porous.

What should I expect during my bone density exam?

DEXA scans utilize a very light dose of X-ray, which is equivalent to about one-tenth of a standard chest X-ray for the entire test. Usually the test focuses on your spine and hip which are not only the two most important specific bone sites, but they also represent a good sample of your bones in general. For the test you will lie on a soft surface table and a scanning arm will move over your low spine and one hip, a computer then calculating their density scores.

Why should I get my bone density checked?

  • If you have an increased risk of osteoporosis, including those with family history, low body weight, advanced age and certain medications.
  • To monitor how osteoporosis medicine is working.
  • To predict and prevent future fractures.

How should I prepare for my bone density exam?

  • Do not take calcium supplements 24 hours before your exam.
  • Eat a normal diet as food will not impact your test results.
  • Wear comfortable two-piece clothing that is easy to remove and free of zippers, buttons or belts.

When will I get my results from my bone density exam?

Your results, or T and Z scores, will be read by our specialty readers within 2-3 business days. Your referring provider will discuss your results and determine if follow-up care is needed, and answer any questions you have.

What are T and Z scores?

Your T scores, which are the main focus of your results, classify your risk for a fracture regardless of your age; and are derived from a fixed number called the young normal, which is taken from an average person’s score around the age of 30 depending upon the specific bone region. The higher your T score or comparison with the young normal, the lower your risk for a fracture at that site. The Z scores do not compare you to a young normal, but to an average person of your own age, gender, and race, and if they are too low this can be an indicator of a future risk for fractures.

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