Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry
(Bone Mineral Density Testing; DEXA; DXA; Central DXA; Peripheral DXA)
Reasons for Test
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What to Expect
Prior to Test
- Eat normally on the day of the test.
- Wait up to 2 weeks before having a DEXA scan if you have had a barium study or if you have been injected with contrast dye for a CT scan or MRI.
- Wear loose, comfortable clothing. Do not wear clothing with metal zippers, belts, or buttons.
- If there is any possibility that you are pregnant, let the staff know.
Description of Test
How Long Will It Take?
Will It Hurt?
- T score—This number shows the amount of bone you have in comparison to a young adult of the same gender with peak bone mass. A score above -1 is considered normal. A score between -1 and -2.5 may mean you have osteopenia, the first stage of bone loss. A score below -2.5 means you may have osteoporosis.
- Z score—This number shows the amount of bone you have in comparison to other people of your age group, gender, and race. A score below -2 is considered abnormal.
Call Your Doctor
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons http://orthoinfo.aaos.org
National Osteoporosis Foundation http://www.nof.org
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Osteoporosis Canada http://www.osteoporosis.ca
American College of Radiology. Guideline for the Performance of Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry. Available at: http://www.acr.org/~/media/eb34da2f786d4f8e96a70b75ee035992.pdf. Updated 2014. Accessed January 26, 2015.
Bone density scan. RadiologyInfo.org—Radiological Society of North America website. Available at: http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=dexa&bhcp=1. Updated February 12, 2015. Accessed January 26, 2015.
National Osteoporosis Foundation. Clinician's Guide to Prevention and Treatment of Osteoporosis. Washington, DC: National Osteoporosis Foundation, 2010. Available at: http://www.nof.org/files/nof/public/content/file/344/upload/159.pdf. Accessed January 26, 2015.
Osteoporosis: bone density tests. Am Acad Orthop Surg Bull. 1999;47(3).
Osteoporosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated December 29, 2014. Accessed January 26, 2015.
Sartoris D, Dalinka MK, Alazraki N. Osteoporosis and bone mass measurement. Radiology. 2000;215(suppl):397-414.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 01/2015 -
- Update Date: 02/20/2014 -