Helping people keep their bones healthy can be made possible by identifying the density of their bones. A bone densitometry (DXA) exam uses dual-energy x-rays to evaluate bone mineral density.

Osteoporosis causes bones to be weak and brittle resulting in possible fractures. The most common osteoporosis-related fractures occur in the hip, spine, and wrist. The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommends that women over the age of 65 should get a DXA scan. Certain chemotherapy drugs and hormone reduction can increase the risk of osteoporosis. Other risk factors include: family history, steroid medication, smoking, excessive alcohol intake, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic renal and liver disease, and inflammatory bowel disease. By detecting osteoporosis at its earliest stages (osteopenia), your physician can provide the best recommendation to help prevent worsening bone density, such as utilizing osteoporosis medication called bisphosphonates. Ask your physician if you may be a candidate for a DXA screening.

The Horizon DXA system uses the latest technology with OnePass™ single-sweep scans allowing for a much quicker, comfortable exam. The Horizon DXA system has the ability to detect bone fractures and utilizes a FRAX 10-year fracture risk assessment to help determine your risk for bone fractures in the future, based on your current bone density and risk factors.

What to expect

Upon arrival for your DXA scan, the technologist will get your height and weight. Please wear comfortable clothing without any metal, zippers, or buttons. Also, you should not take your vitamin supplements, including calcium and multivitamins, at least 24 hours prior to your exam. You should not have had any type of barium, dye or contrast study for a CT or MRI within 6 days prior to your DXA scan. The technologist will bring you into the exam room and start by asking you a short health history questionnaire. The technologist will position you on your back on a cushioned table to allow for the most effective exam. Typically, your left hip and spine will be scanned and analyzed to give the best reading of your bone density. If you have trouble lying flat or have metal in your spine or hip, the forearm/wrist can be scanned to provide your bone density. Upon completion of the exam, the radiologist will analyze your DXA scan the same day and get the results to your physician.