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 two 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.
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
Bone density scan. RadiologyInfo.org website. Available at: http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=dexa&bhcp=1. Updated April 12, 2012. Accessed December 3, 2012.
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 December 3, 2012.
Osteoporosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated November 5, 2012. Accessed December 3, 2012.
Osteoporosis: bone density tests. Am Acad Orthop Surg Bull. 1999;47(3).
Sartoris D, Dalinka MK, Alazraki N. Osteoporosis and bone mass measurement. Radiology. 2000;215(suppl):397-414.
- Reviewer: Brian Randall, MD
- Review Date: 11/2012 -
- Update Date: 03/18/2013 -