Good for the Bones: DEXA Scans

Sticks and stones can’t break your bones? When osteoporosis — a potentially painful disease that causes bones to become brittle and fracture easily — is a serious threat to you or someone you care about, a simple bone density test is your best bet for early detection.

Fortunately, technology has come a long way in terms of measuring bone density and diagnosing osteoporosis. Gone are the days of over-exposure to radiation via a conventional chest X-ray; welcome dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scans.

By measuring the calcium and other minerals in your bones, DEXA scans are able to detect bone loss much earlier than the average X-ray. The more minerals you have, the higher your bone density is; the denser your bones are, the less likely they are to break.

Who should consider routine bone density screenings? The first group at risk is post-menopausal, Caucasian women. Another group is men age 70 and older. Elderly men and women weighing less than 127 pounds are also susceptible to the disease. If you have a family history of osteoporosis or hip fractures, you may want to consider a DEXA scan. And individuals on thyroid medication or steroids also have a risk of developing osteoporosis.

If you’re nervous about the procedure, rest assured that DEXA scans are quick, accurate and non-invasive. They also use less radiation than a typical chest X-ray.

Only a thorough medical evaluation can reveal whether your results indicate osteoporosis or another disease. Please talk with your physician to see if a DEXA scan is right for you.