Check your bone density at Advanced Radiology
DEXA is an acronym for dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry. It measures bone mineral density using a densitometer.
Advanced Radiology is equipped with a state-of-the-art machine, called the GE Lunar bone densitometer. Our physicians and technicians are well-experienced and up-to-date with the latest research on osteoporosis.
- About Dexa
- About the Procedure
- Why Advanced Radiology
How Does a Densitometer Work?
A bone densitometer uses small amounts of x-ray to produce images of the spine, hip, or even the whole body. The x-ray is composed of two energy levels, which are absorbed differently by the bones in the body. This explains why the technical term for the DEXA method is “dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry”. From the different absorption measurements of the two x-ray energy levels, the computer is able to determine how much bone mineral is present. The spine and hip are usually measured because they are weight bearing bones and that is where osteoporotic fractures occur most.
What is Osteoporosis?
This is a condition that causes a gradual loss of calcium which causing the bones to become thinner and weaker. This condition is most common in postmenopausal women and often leads to fractures.
Why is it Important to Measure Bone Density?
One third of Caucasian women over the age of 50 have osteoporosis, yet nearly 80% remain undiagnosed. Patients on long-term steroids can also develop osteoporosis. Measuring your bone density today can lead to diagnosing osteoporosis early and reducing further bone loss by initiating treatment.
Otherwise, low bone mineral density or osteoporosis can lead to both hip and spine fractures.
After you are on a therapy program to increase or maintain your bone density, periodic re-evaluations are recommended to evaluate efficacy of therapy.
How Could Osteoporosis Affect My Daily Life?
Osteoporosis often affects vertebrae, and causes curvature of the spine, resulting in severe back pain. In fact, seven percent of women become unable to care for themselves after a fracture. For example, one half of those who could walk unaided before a hip fracture caused by osteoporosis cannot do so afterwards.
Osteoporosis can also very seriously complicate your breathing. If your vertebrae collapse to the point that your torso is significantly shorter or hunched over, your lungs can become cramped. With less space to breath, it makes it more difficult to draw each breath. This, in turn, can lead to other serious complications.
Who is at Risk for Osteoporosis?
Everyone, both men and women lose bone strength as they grow older. However, women are at a higher risk for osteoporosis than men because women typically have a smaller and thinner bone structure to begin with.
Age is another important risk factor. Post-menopausal women are at a significantly higher risk than younger women. After menopause, women produce less of a hormone called estrogen, which helps protect women against bone loss. Without estrogen production, a women’s risk for osteoporosis radically increases.
How Do I Know if I Have Osteoporosis?
It is difficult to diagnose osteoporosis in its early stages. Measuring your bone density using a bone densitometer is the best option for anyone that is at risk. DEXA at Advanced Radiology provides this service.
Important Risk Factors for Osteoporosis include:
- Early menopause
- History of bone fracture
- Small, thin frame
- Family history of osteoporosis
- Removal of the ovaries
- A low calcium diet
- Lack of exercise
- Eating disorders
- Certain medicines (such as steroids or anticonvulsants)
- Alcohol and tobacco use
Is DEXA Only Recommended for Patients at Risk for Osteoporosis?
No! Anyone with a condition known to cause bone loss or is taking a medication that causes bone loss should consider a Dexa scan:
- Long-term hormone replacement therapy
- Anyone who has recently experienced a fracture
- Vitamin D difficiency
If we diagnose your bone density as below average, you and your physician can begin to develop a program to help prevent bone fractures.
What Can I Expect During My DEXA Test?
The bone densitometer is like a large examination table. It is padded and comfortable. Your name, age, height, weight, and ethnicity will be entered into the computer before your test. This information is used to compare your results to a normal reference group. You will be asked to lie on your back, remaining in your normal clothing in most cases.
Belt buckles, metal or thick plastic buttons, and metal jewelry will need to be removed from the region being examined. The operator will position your arms and legs for the test, which is painless and typically takes one to ten minutes. You will be asked to lie still and breathe normally.
Is DEXA Dangerous?
No. The x-ray dose from the bone densitometry test is comparable to the naturally occurring radiation you are exposed to in one week. Compared to a normal x-ray, the patient only absorbs 1/10 of the amount of radiation from a normal chest x-ray.
Why Choose Advanced Radiology Over Other Facilities?
Closely located to many of the physicians in town, you can visit your primary care physician then conveniently drive right down the street to Advanced Radiology. Your privacy and care are our concern as you can drive right up and park at the front door. You avoid the “hospital” environment as you briefly lounge in our fireside waiting room and sip some complimentary coffee or tea. Our facility provides a comfortable, private environment with friendly technologists.
Your study is done efficiently and is reviewed by a board certified radiologist. Results are faxed or called to your doctor that day.