Bone Densitometry

How should I prepare for the procedure?

On the day of the exam, you may eat normally, but do not take calcium supplements for at least 24 hours beforehand. Wear loose, comfortable clothing and avoid garments that have zippers, belts, or buttons made of metal. Otherwise you may be asked to undress and put on a hospital gown to prevent those items from obstructing the area being examined.

Inform your physician if you recently had a barium examination such as an upper gastrointestinal (UGI) or barium enema (BE). If you have had a recent barium examination, you will need to wait until the material clears your system. As with any x-ray examination, women should always inform their physician or the x-ray technologist if there is a possibility they might be pregnant.

How is the procedure performed?

During the test, you will lie on a padded scanning table while the imager passes over your body taking measurements. It is important you stay as still as possible during the procedure to ensure accurate results. The procedure is painless and radiation exposure is minimal – less than one-tenth the dose of a standard chest x-ray.

The DEXA machine sends a thin, invisible x-ray beam with two distinct energy peaks through your bones. One is absorbed mainly by soft tissue and the other by the bone. The soft tissue amount can be subtracted from the total, and what remains is the patient’s bone mineral density, or BMD.

The results of a bone density test are reported as:

  • T-score, which is your bone density compared to what is normally expected for a young adult of your gender.
  • Z-score, which compares your bone density to what is normally expected for you age, gender and weight. This helps pinpoint whether factors other than aging are causing your bone loss.

Who is a candidate for this procedure?

All women should have a bone density test performed at the onset of menopause to evaluate a future risk of osteoporosis or the need for future therapy. Patients with the following risk factors are at an even higher risk for osteoporosis and should be tested:

  • Chronic smoking
  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • Low body weight
  • Prolonged periods of estrogen deficiency
  • Use of steroid medications
  • Prior fractures
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Males with clinical conditions associated with bone loss

Who interprets the results and how do I get them?

Following your exam, a radiologist will analyze the data from your exam and prepare a full report. The report will be sent directly to your physician, who will share the results with you. To request a copy of the report, you may contact your physician’s office or Medical Arts Hospital’s Medical Records Department at 806-873-2183.

How do I schedule an appointment?

When your physician orders a DEXA for you, the physician’s office will either contact the scheduling center or ask you to make the arrangements. If your physician asks you to make the arrangements, please contact us at 806-872-2183. Please have your order available when you call.