Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, more commonly known as a DEXA or DXA scan, is the most comprehensive scan available for the skeletal system. It is the most-used type of medical imaging ordered by doctors in order to help diagnose bone diseases such as osteoporosis.
Here at Fair Lawn Imaging, we’re proud to offer the most comprehensive and safest DEXA scans available with our state-of-the-art machines. Let’s take a look at how DEXA works and why your doctor might order a DEXA scan.
How Does DEXA Work?
DEXA scans use x-rays in order to asses a patient’s bone mineral density, or BMD. Two x-ray beams of different energy (thus dual energy) are aimed at bones in the body. The amount of energy absorbed by the minerals in the bone (such as calcium phosphate and calcium carbonate) is used to calculate the BMD. Densities that are too low could suggest osteoporosis.
How Does the Ionizing Radiation Compare?
DEXA uses x-rays, which is a type of ionizing radiation.The amount of radiation used in DEXA scans is one of the lowest (and perhaps the lowest) found in any piece of medical equipment. DEXA provides only 0.001 mSv, a fifth that of a standard dental x-ray.
Does It Hurt?
Absolutely not. Much like the x-rays from the dentist office, you can’t feel the scanning procedure being performed. And unlike a noisy and claustrophobic MRI machine, DEXA scanning equipment is quiet and more open. You simply lie on your back while the scanning arm moves over you and performs the scan.
Who Should Get One?
Women are more at risk of osteoporosis, and most doctors will suggest that women over the age of 65 get a DEXA scan. Men who are over 70 may also be recommended to our medical imaging center for a scan. People with a family history of osteoporosis or relatives with hip fractures should also get a scan to assess the condition of their bones.
Why Is DEXA So important?
No matter our age or our health history, we should all be careful with our bones. But while healthy bones will heal if we’re in an accident or have a sports injury, unhealthy bones won’t heal as readily. On top of that, unhealthy bones are also more likely to fracture in the first place.
If you have been through a DEXA scan, you and your doctor can take the next appropriate steps in dealing with osteoporosis. You’ll be able to adjust your diet and supplement intake appropriately and be informed about how to avoid situations that might lead to bone fractures. DEXA also provides an excellent baseline so that the progression, or regression, of osteoporosis can be followed.
On the other side of the coin, if DEXA shows that you don’t have osteoporosis, your doctor might suggest other scans to deal with whatever symptoms brought you to them in the first place.
DEXA is truly a medical marvel when it comes to helping those who might have osteoporosis. If your doctor has suggested that it’s time for you to have a DEXA (or DXA) scan), contact our diagnostic imaging center today!