Grandmother in garden with grand daughter

Bone Density Imaging

Also known as: DEXA Scan

Providence empowers you to take control of your bone health and minimize the threats of osteoporosis and arthritis. With advanced technology, we can precisely detect the signs of osteoporosis with a quick and painless bone density imaging test.

Bone Density Imaging is an X-ray procedure that scans your body and produces high-resolution images of your bones to check for density. Traditional X-rays can only detect signs of bone degeneration after a 40-percent change in bone density. Our advanced imaging techniques allow us to detect even a 1-percent change in your bones.

The test itself is used to determine if you have osteoporosis – a disease that causes bones to become more fragile and more likely to break. The bones that are most commonly tested are located in the forearm, hip and spine. 

You should consider undergoing bone density imaging if you meet the following risk factors:

  • Female
  • Over 40 years of age
  • Caucasian or Asian
  • Low bone mass
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • A family history of osteoporosis
  • Estrogen deficiency as a result of menopause, especially early or surgically induced
  • Women who have been on hormone replacement therapy (HRT/ERT) for prolonged periods
  • All women age 65 and older regardless of additional risk factors

Bone densitometry is done on an outpatient basis and usually takes no more than 20 minutes to complete. If you are having your spine or hip imaged, you will lie on a table while the imaging equipment passes over you to generate the X-ray images. If your fingers or limbs are imaged, you simply place them in a small device that takes the X-ray images quickly and painlessly.

Wear comfortable clothing without zippers or metal if possible (the metal could create a false reading). Patient gowns are also available. No special prep is necessary.

Unlike typical X-ray machines, radiation exposure during bone densitometry is extremely low - less than the radiation exposure during a coast-to-coast airline flight. Bone density scans are fast, convenient and precise way to determine a percentage of change from previous scans, and to help determine your risk of developing osteoporosis and future fractures.

About your T-Score (exam results)

This number shows the amount of bone you have compared with 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 is classified as osteopenia, the first stage of bone loss. A score below -2.5 is defined as osteoporosis. The T score is used to estimate your risk of developing a fracture.

Do not schedule nuclear medicine or studies with Barium prep (like a fluoroscopy study, or certain MRI or CT exams) within ten days before your bone density exam as the contrast used in these tests will also cause a false reading. Please refrain from taking any calcium supplements 24 hours before a bone density exam. 

We use technology and techniques to minimize radiation exposure while still maintaining a good image quality for an accurate diagnosis. Other than the slight radiation exposure there are no risks or complications in a bone density screening.