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Bone densitometry is a bone density test, also called dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry or DEXA or DXA. It’s a common test for women older than 50 at risk of developing osteoporosis. The test uses enhanced X-ray technology to measure the amount of bone you have.
There are two types of DXA tests: central and peripheral. Central DXA measures bone density in the hip, spine, or arm, using a large machine to diagnose problems with bone density. Peripheral DXA (or pDXA) measures bone density in the wrist, heel, or finger, using a much smaller machine. pDXA tests are only screening tests because they are less sensitive than a central DXA scan.
A central DXA scan shows whether you have normal bone density, low bone density, or true osteoporosis, and if your bone density is improving, staying the same, or getting worse. Testing results will help your doctor decide if you need to start treatment and if treatment is working.
Your doctor may recommend this test if you:
If you have been recommended for a bone density scan in Las Vegas or Henderson, NV our women’s health team at Dignity Health - St. Rose Dominican can help you with reliable diagnosis and treatment options. Find a Doctor near you to schedule a consultation.
If you are undergoing a DXA test, you should stop taking calcium supplements for 24 hours before your test. Tell your doctor and technologist if you have had a barium exam or another imaging exam with a contrast agent in the last two weeks, as the contrast material can interfere with the accuracy of the test.
A DEXA scan is painless. The test can take up to 30 minutes, and you will wear a gown or your own clothing with no metal for the exam.
You will lie on a table, so the technologist can position your body using supports and braces. You may need to hold your breath for short periods during the test. After the test, you can resume your normal activities.
A DXA test uses very low doses of radiation, so you should let your radiology technologist know if there is any chance of pregnancy.
Dignity Health - St. Rose Dominican provides a number of women’s imaging tests, including bone density scans, in Las Vegas and Henderson, NV.