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What Is A DEXA Scan And Why Do You Need It?

Today there are radiographic techniques such as DEXA, CT and MRI that allow you to directly view and measure the variables of body composition (adipose tissue, bone tissue and muscle tissue).

The main limitation of these equipment is that they are not very accessible and very expensive.

DEXA Scan is a means of measuring bone mineral density (BMD) using digital X-rays. DEXA is the most extensive and in-depth study of bone density measurement technology. This technique can measure osteoporosis.

Through electromagnetic interference, we can also scan and analyze the body composition, such as measuring the total fat content of the body. Athletes, models and health-conscious people usually like this type of scan. This type of scan requires an appointment in advance.

It is based on the principle of differential attenuation of an X-ray beam, at two energy levels, as it passes through the tissues. This attenuation is recordable and correlated to the body composition of the examined subject.

The device uses a coincident X-ray beam with no dispersion in the environment.

The radiation dose per single exam is minimal. There is therefore no risk for both the patient and the operator and it is possible to repeat the examination within a short time.

Time-consuming inspection

The scanning inspection may take up to 20 minutes.

Is DEXA scan the same as bone scan?

Although the names sound similar, the purpose and method of the two inspections are quite different. Bone scan is a "nuclear medicine exam" (nuclear medicine exam), it is generally used to observe tumors and stress fractures, not for bone density measurement.

Besides DXA, what other methods are available for measuring bone density?

Although there are also ultrasound or lower dose X-rays for "screening" of bone density, or more complex algorithms to analyze the results of CT images to obtain bone density (QCT), the accuracy of these methods is still not as good as DEXA scan, Therefore, it has not been widely used in direct diagnosis in hospitals.

What do I need to do before doing a bone density test?

Do not take calcium tablets within 24 hours before the examination.

2. Wear loose and comfortable clothes during the inspection (try not to have metal zippers, belts or buttons), and remove metal objects such as keys and wallets before the inspection.

3. If you have recently performed a barium or contrast agent-enhanced examination, it will take another two weeks before the DEXA examination.

4. Pregnant women are not recommended to do DEXA examination.

How does DEXA instrument measure bone density?

The DEXA instrument emits a beam of low-dose X-rays with two energy peaks on the bones of the arm or torso on the workbench. One energy peak is mainly absorbed by soft tissue, and the other is mainly absorbed by the bone.

By this method, the soft tissue part can be quickly subtracted from the total amount of the entire arm or torso, and the bone X-ray penetration is obtained. Through the software algorithm, the bone density of this part is obtained.

Is there a risk in DEXA inspection?

If the inspection is too frequent and the radiation exposure is excessive, there is a risk of cancer. However, the contribution of this test to accurate diagnosis is far greater than the risk of disease.

How to Prevent Osteoporosis with a DEXA Scan Test?

Prevention begins with a good diagnosis

If you notice that your bones fracture easily, if you are a woman of pre-menopausal age or if you have sedentary lifestyle habits, it may be necessary to have a DEXA scan to rule out osteoporosis and be able to prevent it before it appears.


What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by a decrease in bone mass and a deterioration in the quality of the bones, therefore, increasing the risk of fractures. Although this disease is prevalent in women, especially during menopause, when calcium assimilation is less, it also occurs in older men. According to the experts of diagnostic labs in Delhi, it is estimated that 1 in 4 postmenopausal women suffers from osteoporosis, increasing the percentage to 40% in women between 70 and 79 years of age. In the case of men, factors such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption or a sedentary lifestyle intensify the risk of suffering from this disease.

Difference between osteoporosis and osteopenia

Osteopenia is the progressive loss of bone mineral density with age, which can lead, but is not always the case, to osteoporosis.

Differences between osteoarthritis, arthritis and osteoporosis

While osteopenia and osteoporosis affect the bones, arthritis and osteoarthritis are diseases that are concentrated in the joints and in the cartilage tissues that surround them. Both arthritis and osteoarthritis are usually painful, unlike osteoporosis and cannot be diagnosed by DEXA scan, but the patient would need a complementary examination such as x-rays and other imaging tests like 3D ultrasound or MRI test.

How to prevent and cure osteoporosis?

The diagnostic test that helps experts to detect osteoporosis is called DEXA scan and its function is to measure the calcium level of bones.

Main symptoms of osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is known as the silent epidemic since it has no symptoms beyond the pain that appears with the fracture, so detecting it becomes very complicated. It is recommended to make an appointment with your orthopedic surgeon especially after 50 years or if bones fracture easily.

Best treatments for osteoporosis

You can treat osteoporosis naturally or with advanced medical help:

  • Playing sports or exercising is vital to strengthen the bones.
  • Limit your alcohol intake
  • Quit smoking
  • Adopt a diet rich in calcium
  • Take supplements of calcium and vitamin D

Also, there are advanced treatments that treat the most serious cases of osteoporosis. One of them is the osteoforming treatment, which stimulates the formation and strengthening of the bones. On the other hand, antiresorptive drugs prevent the loss of bone mass thanks to elements such as bisphosphonates and selective estrogen receptor modulators.

How is a bone densitometry done?

The densitometry test does not require any special preparation. Experts recommend not taking calcium supplements during the 24 hours prior to the test and to come without metallic objects (earrings, belts, etc). The specific technique they use to carry out a bone densitometry test is called DEXA scan in which small doses of X-rays are exposed to the bones. Normally, depending on the part of the body to be evaluated, it is done on a stretcher and does not last more than 1 hour.

Is the bone densitometry test painful?

In no case will you feel pain after the DEXA scan test since it is a simple, non-invasive process that uses a minimal dose of radiation.

Therefore, if you feel your bones are fragile or if you want to rule out the diagnosis, put yourself in the hands of our professionals and make an appointment for a densitometry in one of the best medical centers in Delhi.

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