Bone Density Testing

Overview

Definition

Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) is a test that measures the density of your bones.

The DEXA scan is an x-ray scan that uses a small amount of radiation to take pictures of different bones. These pictures are used to measure the density of the bones at the spine, hip, and forearm. It can also take pictures of other bones such as a finger or the heel. Measurements of the spine and hip are called central DXA. Those done on the arms or legs are called peripheral DXA. In some cases, your doctor may order a whole body scan.

Possible Complications

An x-ray uses radiation to make images. The low levels of radiation from a single x-ray will not affect most people. If you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant, talk to your doctor before the x-ray. Radiation may be harmful to developing babies.

SymptomsandDiagnosis

Treatments

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.

a (Bone Mineral Density Testing; DEXA; DXA; Central DXA; Peripheral DXA)

RESOURCES

National Osteoporosis Foundation https://www.nof.org 

Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons https://orthoinfo.org 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Health Canada https://www.canada.ca 

Osteoporosis Canada https://osteoporosis.ca 

References

ACR-SPR-SSR practice parameter for the performance of dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Available at: https://www.acr.org/-/media/ACR/Files/Practice-Parameters/dxa.pdf. Updated 2013.

Bone densitometry (DEXA). Radiology Info—Radiological Society of North America website. Available at: https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=dexa&bhcp=1. Updated May 30, 2016. Accessed April 3, 2018.

Cosman F, de Beur SJ, LeBoff MS, et al. Clinician's guide to prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis Int. 2014;25(10):2359-2381.

Osteoporosis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:  http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113815/Osteoporosis . Updated February 1, 2018. Accessed April 3, 2018.

Sartoris D, Dalinka MK, Alazraki N. Osteoporosis and bone mass measurement. Radiology. 2000;215(suppl):397-414.