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Bone Densitometry (DEXA)

DEXA scans help assess the risk of fracture due to osteoporosis, which is a thinning of the bones as we age and go through menopause.

What Is Bone Densitometry (DEXA)?

DEXA scans, also called DXA, are medical imaging tests that measure the mineral content of bones to provide helpful information for your risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures. The exam can also measure body composition, such as body fat and muscle mass, according to Cleveland Clinic.

What Happens During A DEXA Scan?

DEXA stands for “dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry,” as the scan uses a minimal amount of low-energy X-rays that pass through your hip and spine. During the exam, an imaging specialist will have you lie down on the X-ray table so the DEXA machine’s arm can glide over your body as it delivers two X-ray beams. These X-ray beams use minimal radiation, so any risks associated with radiation are rare during this procedure.

Your bone density measurements are then translated into images and graphs by the DEXA machine, and the bone is made clear on the scans when compared to muscle and fat. This fast, non-invasive test takes ten minutes to perform.

Why Would I Need A DEXA Scan?

With age, your bones lose their strength and become thinner. Your healthcare provider may want to keep track of your bone strength and recommend regular DEXA scans to ensure you do not have a significant risk of osteoporosis if you are more mature, such as over 65. DEXA scans can also diagnose osteoporosis if it is already present.

Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones are brittle and at risk of breaking because your body cannot develop new bone tissue as it becomes weaker. DEXA scans allow your doctor to keep track of your bone density to ensure your risk of breaking bones doesn’t increase significantly over time. Osteoporosis is most common in women after menopause, as women lose bone mass more rapidly than men.

Reasons your healthcare provider may recommend a DEXA exam include:

  • You have a family history of osteoporosis
  • You are over the age of 65
  • You historically have suffered with broken bones
  • You are currently taking medications that can cause weaker bones
  • You have other medical conditions that can cause you to be at greater risk for breaking your bones
  • Your provider wants to track your bone density over time or monitor whether treatments for your bones are working
  • Your doctor wants to evaluate the amount and location of your body’s fat and muscle

Is A DEXA Scan Painful?

You won’t feel anything from the X-ray beams. Experienced specialists will ensure you feel as comfortable as possible throughout your entire experience.

What Happens After A DEXA Scan?

You’ll be able to return to your usual activities immediately after your exam with no discomfort whatsoever. After your DEXA scan, one of our radiologists will review the results and send them to your healthcare provider to determine if treatment is necessary. Your provider will sit with you and explain your results and whether any action is needed to benefit your health.

The calculation of your bone density is as a standard deviation score, which measures the difference between your bone density and the expected value. Measuring your bone density in comparison to a young, healthy adult and with the average condition of someone of your age.

If your bones are in good condition, your provider will likely educate you on maintaining their strength through diet, exercise, and other lifestyle changes.

Pre And Post-Examination Care

  • On the day of your exam, wear loose-fitting clothes that don’t contain metals, such as zippers or belts.
  • Leave any jewelry at home on the day of your scan.
  • Tell your doctor and our imaging specialists if there is a chance you may be pregnant.
  • Discontinue calcium supplements 24 hours before your DEXA scan.
  • Let the imagers know if you recently had a barium exam or a contrast material injection, as these could interfere with your DEXA bone density test results.


Does Insurance Cover DEXA Scans?

Insurance providers should cover DEXA scans if they are part of osteoporosis treatment. Your insurance coverage should include your DEXA exam if you are at a higher risk for osteoporosis and fractures or are currently being treated low for bone mass.

What Are The Risks Associated With DEXA Scans?

While DEXA is a non-invasive, low-risk procedure where any risks are rare, there are some factors to consider:

  • If you are pregnant, we do not recommend a bone density scan.
  • While DEXA scans use a much lower level of radiation than traditional X-rays, as with any radiation procedure, they do have a small risk of overexposure.

Why Us?

Our team at Little Silver Mammography and HerSpace has helped put hundreds of women at ease as we pursue the clinical objective of detecting and diagnosing breast cancer at its earliest, most curable stage.

We recommend thorough research to find radiologists and technologists with excellent reputations, relevant qualifications, and glowing reviews. You can read some of our ‘real patient’ testimonials here!

Location (address, contact details, hours)

Office address

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Suite 115
Little Silver, New Jersey 07739

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Phone:  732.571.9100
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