North Pittsburgh Imaging Specialists

Bone Densitometry (DEXA)


Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) examinations estimate the amount of bone mineral content in specific areas of your body. DEXA exams measure the amount of x-rays that are absorbed by the bones in your body. Two x-ray energies allow the radiologist to tell the difference between bone and soft tissue, giving a very accurate estimation of bone density. Often confused with a nuclear medicine bone scan, a bone density scan is faster and does not require a radionuclide injection.

What Should I Expect?

You will be asked to lie very still on the scan table and you will be able to breathe normally throughout the procedure. A scanner arm will pass over the area of interest, for example, your lower spine or hip. A dual energy beam of x-ray passes through your body and is measured by a detector in the scanner arm. An exam usually consists of a spine and a single scan of the hip. On average, it will take about 20 minutes for the entire exam.

How Should I Prepare?

You will need to avoid taking any form of calcium supplementation for two hours prior to your exam. Otherwise you can perform normal daily activities and eat normally on the day of the exam. Wear comfortable clothing on the day of exam that is free of any type of metal such as zippers or buckles.

How Do I Get the Results?

After your study is over, a radiologist will review and evaluate your exam. Both a preliminary and final report will be sent to your doctor, who can then discuss the results with you in detail. Often, for more immediate situations, our radiologists will speak directly with your referring physician to discuss the result of the imaging procedure.

At any time before or after your procedure, our radiologists are happy to provide one-on-one consultations with you.