Bone Densitometry Scan (DEXA)

Osteoporosis is a disease marked by weakened and brittle bones, increasing the risk of fractures from even the most minor falls and stresses. Osteoporosis and low bone density affects an estimated 54 million Americans—mostly women. What’s more, it can strike as early as middle age. Regular bone density testing (DEXA) is the only way to determine your risk.

Make DEXA scans routine.

DEXA scans are quick and painless exams that can determine bone density and your risk for a fracture. This allows you and your doctor to determine what treatment, if any, is needed to reduce the risk of fracture. Of course, this is a risk that increases with age, so it’s important to make bone density testing a priority. Generally a DEXA scan is recommended every two years, unless your healthcare provider feels more frequent scans are warranted. For convenience, many patients add a DEXA scan to annual screening mammograms. But keep in mind that DEXA scans are performed on men as well, so talk to your doctor about your risks and whether DEXA is right for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who should have a Bone Densitometry exam?

All women should begin routine osteoporosis evaluations at age 65. DEXA is also recommended for post-menopausal women with a fractured bone, women considering therapy for osteoporosis, women who have been on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or are considering HRT, and post-menopausal women with at least one risk factor.

What are the risk factors for osteoporosis?

Risk factors include family history of osteoporosis; a small, thin frame; smoking; consumption of more than one alcoholic beverage per day; and prolonged exposure to steroids.

What does a bone density test tell my healthcare provider?

A bone density test tells your healthcare provider how much mineral you have in your bones. This measurement determines your T-score or Z-score. A T-score of (-1.0) or above is normal. A T-score of (-1.0 to -2.5) is considered osteopenia, or low bone mass. A T-score of (-2.5) or below is indicative of osteoporosis. Z-scores are used for children, premenopausal women and men below the age of 50. A Z-score of (-.20) or lower is considered below the normal range expected for the age group.

Schedule an appointment.

Please have your doctor schedule your appointment for this service. If you have questions about your appointment or need to reschedule call 252.752.5000. This service is offered at the following locations:

Prepare for your appointment.

Be sure to schedule your DEXA test at least one week after any barium studies, nuclear medicine tests or abdominal/intestinal studies involving contrast. Also, please do not consume any calcium pills for three days leading up to your appointment. All other medications should be taken as prescribed.

On the day of your appointment, wear a two-piece outfit without zippers or metal.