A DEXA scan is a quick and painless examination; it is a more accurate measure of the density of the bones and the development of osteoporosis than a normal x-ray. A small dose of radiation is used during this procedure equivalent to 10% of one days’ exposure to natural background radiation.
You will be asked to remove any metal on your person, you will be weighed and your height will be measured you will then be asked to lay on a table, the machine will slowly move over your body without touching you in any way, you will not be enclosed by equipment at any time.
Two areas are normally scanned the hip and the lumbar spine, during scanning a small dose of radiation will pass through the body, some radiation will be absorbed by the bone and soft tissue and some will pass through, special detectors in the scanner measure how much radiation passes through the body. This information is sent to a computer and the measurements are compared with the normal range of values for a healthy adult of the same age and build. The scans are then reported on by a Consultant specialising in bone disease and a report will be sent to your referring doctor.
The results show whether you have a normal or reduced bone density for your age. If it is reduced it is classified as either osteopenia (mildly reduced bone mass) or osteoporosis (more severely reduced bone mass).