Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become less dense, causing them to fracture (break) more easily. A DEXA scan is used to measure bone density.
Anyone, regardless of gender and age, who displays one or more of the risk factors for osteoporosis should have a DEXA scan. The earlier it is identified, the more that can be done to prevent it progressing.
The DEXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) scan delivers a direct measurement of bone density. Currently, it is the most accurate and reliable means of assessing the strength of your bones and your risk of breaking a bone.
A DEXA scan is fast (10 to 15 minutes), accurate and painless and the dose of radiation used is extremely low.
There is no particular preparation required for a DEXA scan. If preparation is required, you will be informed in advance.
At the beginning of the scan, the radiographer will weigh you and measure your height. You will then lie on a padded examination table. You may be asked to change into a hospital gown for the scan.
You will be asked to lie completely still while the DEXA scanner moves over the body part that is being scanned – usually the lower spine and hips.
It may be slightly uncomfortable holding the correct position and/or lying on the X-ray table while the image is produced, but the procedure itself is painless and only takes 10 to 15 minutes.
In most cases, you will be able to leave the Radiology Department immediately. The images and the scan report are then studied by a radiologist (doctor who uses X-rays to diagnose and treat illnesses) and the results will be sent to the doctor who referred you.
Results will be sent to your referring clinician. You may already have an appointment with the doctor who referred you. If not, you may need to contact them to discuss the results and any potential treatment you may need.
All DEXA scans need a referral letter from your GP or consultant.
We have an appointment-based service for DEXA scans. When you receive your appointment notice, you will be asked to complete a DEXA questionnaire and you should bring this with you to your appointment. The questionnaire will check things like pregnancy status, previous surgeries and medications. The radiographer will also need to know if this is your first scan or not, to allow your results to be compared.