Understand your bone health with testing services at an Adventist HealthCare imaging center near you.

What’s a Bone Density Scan?

A dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan is also known as a bone density scan. It uses a low-dose beam of X-rays to measure the mineral density, or strength, of your bones.

What’s a DEXA Scan Used For?

Your doctor may recommend this imaging test to check if you’re at risk of osteoporosis, a condition that causes weak bones and may lead to a fracture (broken bone). Your test results can help you and your doctor make a plan to protect your bones with exercise, diet changes, medications and other treatments.

Types of DEXA Scans

You may have:

  • Peripheral (p-DEXA) – Checks bone density in your forearm and helps determine if you need a central DEXA scan
  • Central DEXA – Scans the hip and spine, the bones most likely to fracture if you have osteoporosis

Is a Bone Density Scan Safe?

A DEXA scan is a safe, painless way to get accurate results about your bone health. Rely on our experienced team to use the lowest amount of radiation needed and follow other safety guidelines.

How Do You Prepare?

Ask your appointment scheduler how to get ready for your test. Tell them if you:

  • Are allergic to intravenous (IV) or oral contrast
  • Are breastfeeding
  • Are pregnant or could be pregnant
  • Have diabetes or kidney disease
  • Take any prescription and over-the-counter drugs or supplements

For 24 hours before your scan, do not:

  • Drink energy drinks
  • Take any vitamins, including vitamin D or calcium supplements

On the Day of Your DEXA Scan

Wear loose, metal-free clothing, and do not wear jewelry. Arrive at least 15 minutes before your appointment.

What to Bring

Bring the following to your appointment:

  • Insurance cards and photo ID
  • List of current medications
  • Referral from your physician

What Happens During a DEXA Scan

Depending on which body part your radiology team will scan, your technologist will guide you to a chair or exam table, where you will sit or lie down. An imaging technologist will move a large scanning arm slowly over your body (for a central DEXA scan) or place your forearm on a small scanning device (for a p-DEXA test).

How Long Will It Take?

Ask your team how long your test will last. A DEXA scan is usually 15 minutes.

After the Scan

You can leave the imaging center and do your activities as normal.

Test Results & Follow-Up Care

Your trained radiologist will review your scan and send the results to your doctor in about 24 hours. Your care team may recommend additional tests, or you and your doctor will work together to use your results to create a personalized treatment plan.

Cost of a DEXA Scan

Contact your insurance provider to check if they cover this test and if you have a co-pay.

Make an Appointment

For mammograms, schedule online. For all other imaging services and locations, please call 301-590-8999 to schedule.

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