A DEXA scan, or Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry, uses x-rays to differentiate your body weight into the components of lean soft tissue, fat soft tissue, and bone. The test can help you and your physician monitor the density of the bones in your spine, hip, or total body. This is key to early detection of osteoporosis and fracture risk.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, 10 million individuals already have osteoporosis and 18 million more are unaware that they have low bone mass and are at risk. Women, who have a much higher incidence of osteoporosis or related fracture than men, can develop the disease as early as 45 years of age. The risk increases after age 65.
DEXA scans are painless and take about 10 minutes to complete. You simply lie fully clothed on a table while the DEXA scan machine passes over you, sending a beam of low-dose x-rays through your body. The total amount of radiation is just one-tenth the level emitted in a typical chest x-ray.
The resulting images show your bones and help generate a computerized “T score.” This compares your bone mass to people of the same age, gender and size. If bone loss or osteoporosis is diagnosed, you and your doctor have the most detailed information about treatment options specific to your needs.