DEXA Scan For Evaluating Bone Health

Healthy bones are integral to our overall well-being. Not only do healthy bones facilitate movement, but they also safeguard our essential organs. Bone, being a living tissue, undergoes continuous transformation throughout our lifespan through a process called remodelling. This mechanism replaces the older or damaged bone cells with new ones. However, certain conditions such as osteoporosis can compromise bone health and make them brittle and weak. Due to this, even mild stresses like coughing or bending can lead to fractures. 


What Are The Symptoms Of Weak Bones


Bones are usually strong enough to support the body weight and absorb most kinds of impacts. However, osteoporosis can cause bone loss. While there are usually no symptoms in early stages, many individuals become aware of their condition after experiencing a fracture. Bones weakened by osteoporosis might have signs and symptoms which include:


  • Back pain due to a broken or collapsed spinal bone
  • Loss of height over time
  • A stooped posture
  • A bone that fractures with greater ease than usual


How is Osteoporosis Diagnosed?


A bone mineral density (BMD) test is a safe and reliable test to measure density and thickness of the bones. This test aids in finding out whether an individual is suffering from osteoporosis or is likely to develop it in the future. Bones that contain more minerals are denser and tend to be stronger and less likely to break.


The most commonly used BMD test is a central dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA or DEXA). The DEXA scan uses radiation to measure how much calcium and other minerals are in a specific area of the bone. DEXA usually measures bone mineral density in the hip and spine as weak bones that tend to break most often are in these areas.


Why You Might Need a BMD Test?


This test is primarily used if:


  • You’re a female aged 65 or older
  • You’re a postmenopausal woman aged 50 or older
  • You’re a male aged 50 or older with additional risk factors
  • Occurence of a bone fracture after the age of 50
  • Loss of over 1.5 inches of your adult height
  • Development of a more hunched posture
  • Experiencing unexplained back pain
  • Cessation or irregularity of periods without pregnancy or menopause
  • You’ve had an organ transplant
  • Decrease in hormone levels
  • Leading a sedentary lifestyle


What To Expect During a DEXA Scan? 


Before the test, please do the following:


  • Stop taking calcium supplements for a period of 24 hours prior to test
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing without any metal components
  • Notify your doctor if there is a possibility of pregnancy


The Scan Works This Way:


You will be instructured to recline on a padded table. You may need to lie with your legs straight, or with your legs on a padded platform. 


The DEXA machine’s arm passes over the body, using two different X-ray beams to help distinguish between bones and tissue.  


The scanner translates the bone density measurement into pictures and graphs. While the bones are seen in white, fat and muscle tissue look like shadow in the background on the monitor. 


These results are then reviewed by a radiologist or other physician trained in DEXA interpretation.


Types of DEXA Scans: 


Central DEXA scan: The most common DEXA scan is Central DEXA scan. This scan is used to evaluate bone health by measuring bone density in the hip and lumbar spine, two areas that are at risk of fracture with low bone density.


Peripheral DEXA scan: This can uses a smaller machine and evaluates bone density at the wrist, finger, and heel. 


In conclusion, a DEXA scan is a safe and reliable imaging procedure to measure bone density, aiding in the identification of osteoporosis and assessing the risk of future development.



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