Nov 9, 2016

What a DXA Screening Can Tell You About Your Bones


When you start to experience symptoms of osteoporosis, you might be wondering what your next step is. How do you gain a better understanding for what your body is dealing with? Sometimes we cannot tell what is going on beneath the surface, which is where x-rays come in to provide further review. Therefore, the first step to diagnosing osteoporosis is to receive a dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) test from a trained physician.

What is DXA?

DXA tests involve technology that is much more effective than a typical X-ray, which is unable to show osteoporosis in the body until it is far more advanced. Although the name of this x-ray might sound overwhelming, a DXA is actually a simple and quick non-invasive process. This enhanced form of x-ray scanning uses top-of-the-line radiation technology to accurately measure bone mineral density in a patient’s body. By assessing an estimate of bone density, your physician will then know how strong your bones currently are and which areas are weaker than others. The test focuses on two main areas of your body – the hip and spine. These two areas both have a larger chance of fracturing and tend to lead to more serious side effects.

How does it work?

This screening test is an incredibly simple and quick process, usually over within 10 to 20 minutes. As the patient, you will lie on a padded table with an x-ray generator below you and an imaging device above you. While lying very still, the DXA detector slowly examines the area in need, generating images for the physician to review. It is very important to remain still during the scan for more accurate results. Once the images are taken, they will then be printed and thoroughly reviewed to determine your bone mineral density.

When should I get one?

Physicians recommend that you receive a DXA scanning under certain circumstances. Below are a few of the following reasons why you should schedule a test:

  • you are a women 65 years or older
  • you are a man over the age of 70
  • you break a bone after the age of 50 years old
  • you are experiencing significant height loss
  • you are a woman under 65 with certain risk factors
  • you are a man age 50-69 with certain risk factors
  • you are experiencing back pain with a break in your spine

What’s next?

After receiving the results from your DXA, the physician can then determine your bone density level. This information will help them assess whether or not you need to be treated for osteoporosis. If the physician declares that your bone density levels are indeed low, that does not necessarily mean that you have osteoporosis. However, it does mean that your chances of developing osteoporosis in the future are higher. Your physician will have a better understanding and make a diagnosis accordingly.

Our trained physicians at Carolina Arthritis perform dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) tests regularly. Through quality technology and quality professionals, we will help assess and diagnosis with the utmost care and expertise.