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Bone Density Scan

Also known as DEXA (Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry) or Bone Densitometry

What is a bone density scan?

A bone density scan (DEXA) scan uses a small amount of ionising radiation to create images of your body, normally the hips and lower spine. The DEXA machine sends a thin ray of low-dose x-rays through the bone. This beam has two energy peaks, one that is absorbed by bone, another by soft tissue. The soft tissue amount is subtracted from the total, and the remaining amount gives the bone density. If DEXA is repeated over time it can help to track the rate of bone density loss. DEXA is fast, painless and considered to be very safe.

If you need a bone density scan, here’s everything you need to know.

Before your scan

When you make your appointment, please let our booking team know if you may be pregnant, have had a recent barium exam or recently been injected with contrast dye. Do not take any calcium supplements for at least 24 hours before the scan. Otherwise you should continue eating and drinking normally and take all your usual medications.

Please also remember to bring your completed doctors referral form with you, if this has not already been sent to us. This will ensure the branch reception has all the necessary information required so our expert team can provide you with the best care possible.

On the day of your appointment

When you arrive, please check in with reception. We’ll make sure your details are correct and ask you to complete the appropriate forms.
You’ll take off your glasses, jewellery, belt, watch, hearing aids and hairpins, and may be asked to change into a gown.

You’ll lie on a padded table and the radiographer will help position your body correctly. For example, to scan the spine your legs may be placed on a padded box that flattens the pelvis and lower spine.

Once you’re all set, the radiographer will move into another room, or behind a screen – you can talk to them at any time over the intercom.
You’ll have to stay very still during your scan.

After your scan

You’ll be able to get on with your day right away.

Who can't have a bone density scan?

DEXA may not be suitable for those who:
• Are pregnant
• Have been recently injected with contrast material

Where can I get a DEXA scan?

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