Women's Imaging

DEXA - Bone Density Study

Your Ultrasound Exam

Osteoporosis Risk Factors

  • Female
  • Caucasian
  • Advanced age
  • History of bone fracture
  • Small thin frame
  • Family history
  • Ovaries removed
  • Early menopause
  • Low calcium diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Eating disorders
  • Use steroids or anticonvulsant medication
  • Use alcohol and tobacco

What is DEXA?

Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, or DEXA, is an enhanced form of x-ray technology used for measuring bone mineral density (BMD). Using two different x-ray beams to analyze the density of the bones in your spine and hip, DEXA determines the amount of minerals, such as calcium, and assesses the thickness and strength of the bones. Loss of bone mass is part of the natural aging process, but some people are at risk of developing osteoporosis - a condition that generally affects women after menopause, but it can also be found in men. Osteoporosis involves the loss of calcium in the bones causing them to become thinner and more fragile. DEXA is most commonly used to diagnose osteoporosis, but may also be used to monitor treatment once osteoporosis has been diagnosed.

The primary risk factors for osteoporosis and a DEXA scan are:

  • Family history
  • Post-menopausal status
  • Use of certain medications known to cause bone loss
  • Previous fracture
  • Smoking
  • Diet low in calcium, phosphorus or vitamin D
  • Lifestyle with little or no weight-bearing exercise

What should you expect?

During a DEXA scan, you will lie flat on a table while the "arm" of the equipment passes over certain areas of your body. You will not see or feel anything during the exam. You may be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds during the exam. A DEXA scan is very quick - generally less than 15 minutes in length.

Preparing for DEXA

On the day of your DEXA study, you may eat normally, however, you should not take any calcium supplements for at least 24 hours before your exam.

You may be asked to remove any jewelry, eye glasses or other metal objects on your clothing because they may interfere with the x-ray images. It is best to come to our office dressed in loose, comfortable clothes.

Be sure to inform the Technologist if there is any chance you may be pregnant or if you have recently had any other imaging exam where you were given a contrast material such as oral barium, an IV or if you've recently received a scan using a radioisotope.

How and when will you know the results?

After your study is complete, the images will be evaluated by one of our Board-Certified Radiologists. A final report will be sent to your physician who can then discuss the results with you in detail.

DEXA Studies are performed at:

Phoenix North (Bell)
Paradise Valley (Tatum)
Phoenix West (Indian School)
Tempe
Mesa

To schedule an appointment, contact us.