Bone Densitometry

Bone Densitometry

A DEXA scan is an imaging test that measures bone density (strength). DEXA scan results can provide helpful details about your risk for osteoporosis (bone loss) and fractures (bone breaks). This test can also measure your body composition, such as body fat and muscle mass.
A bone density test, DEXA, measures the mineral content of the bones in certain areas of the skeleton. It’s a way to measure bone loss as you age. Healthcare providers sometimes call these tests bone densitometry tests, or DXA.
A DEXA scan is a type of medical imaging test. It uses very low levels of x-rays to measure how dense your bones are. DEXA stands for “dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry.”
Medical experts consider DEXA scans to be the most useful, easy, and inexpensive test for helping to diagnose osteoporosis. The test is quick and painless.

Who should get a bone-density scan?

For women over 65 and men over 70, DEXA scans are only appropriate for those with moderate risk of fracture or when the results will change the patients care plan. Younger women and men ages 50 to 69 should consider the test if they have risk factors for serious bone loss. Risk factors include:
Younger women and men ages 50 to 69 should consider the test if they have risk factors for serious bone loss. Risk factors include:

  • Breaking a bone in a minor accident.
  • Having rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Having a parent who broke a hip.
  • Smoking.
  • Drinking heavily.
  • Having a low body weight.
  • Using corticosteroid drugs for three months or more.
  • Having a disorders associated with osteoporosis.

You may need a follow-up bone-density test after several years, depending on the results of your first test.

How can you keep your bones strong?

The following steps can help you build bone:

Exercise. The best exercise for your bones is exercise that makes your bones carry weight. When you walk, your bones carry the weight of your whole body. You can also lift weights. Aim for at least 30 minutes of weight-bearing exercise a day.

Get enough calcium and vitamin D. They help keep your bones strong.

Avoid smoking and limit alcohol. Among other things, smoking and drinking alcohol can speed up bone loss.

 

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