Bone density scanning, also called dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA or DEXA) or bone densitometry, is an enhanced form of x-ray technology that is used to measure bone loss. DEXA is today’s established standard for measuring bone mineral density (BMD). DEXA bone density testing is the most accurate method available for the diagnosis of osteoporosis and is also considered an accurate estimator of fracture risk. It is a painless medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions. Radiography involves exposing a part of the body to a small dose of ionizing radiation to produce pictures of the inside of the body.
The University Orthopaedic Center also provides x-ray and MRI scans. X-rays are performed using the latest digital radiography technology to produce highest-quality studies at the lowest possible radiation dose. MRI studies are performed on a state-of-the-art scanner, which is accredited by the American College of Radiology. All imaging studies are interpreted by board-certified radiologists who have completed advanced training in musculoskeletal imaging.
Some women are at greater risk for osteoporosis—the decrease of bone mass and density as a result of the depletion of bone calcium and protein—than others. Your doctor can help you determine your risk of developing osteoporosis by taking your personal and family medical history, and by performing a bone density test or bone mass measurement.
A bone density test, also known as bone mass measurement or bone mineral density test, measures the strength and density of your bones as you approach menopause and, when the test is repeated sometime later, can help determine how quickly you are losing bone mass and density. These tests are painless, noninvasive, and safe. They compare your bone density with standards for what is expected in someone of your age, gender, and size, and to the optimal peak bone density of a healthy young adult of the same gender. Bone density testing can help to:
Detect low bone density before a fracture occurs.
Confirm a diagnosis of osteoporosis if you have already fractured.
Predict your chances of fracturing in the future.
Determine your rate of bone loss and/or monitor the effects of treatment if the test is conducted at intervals of a year or more.
If you have one or more of the following risk factors for osteoporosis, you may want to consider having a bone density test:
You have already experienced a bone fracture that may be the result of thinning bones.
Your mother, grandmother, or another close relative had osteoporosis or bone fractures.
Over a long period of time, you have taken medication that accelerates bone loss, such as corticosteroids for treating rheumatoid arthritis or other conditions, or some anti-seizure medications.
You have low body weight, a slight build, or a light complexion.
You have a history of cigarette smoking or heavy drinking.
When you arrive, you will be asked a few questions about your health and medications to help us make sure we are billing your insurance properly. You may be asked to change into an exam gown if you are wearing any zippers, buttons or hooks in the areas we will be scanning. You will be asked to lie on your back on a padded table for about 5–10 minutes.
MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging. It allows your doctor to view detailed internal images of your body without exposing you to radiation. The orthopaedic center has invested in the latest design of MRI scanner to ensure the most advanced, comfortable and rapid imaging possible.
There are certain conditions that may prevent you from having an MRI exam. Please let the technologist know if you have any of the following conditions:
This exam is simple and painless. Our technologists work to give you a comfortable experience. The machine will be noisy, so you will be given earplugs or headphones with music of your choice. You will need to remove all metal objects that you may be carrying. This includes watches, jewelry, coins, keys, pens, eyeglasses, dentures and hairpins. A locked dressing room will be provided for your personal belongings. You may be asked to change into a gown, and the MRI technologist will escort you into the scanning room.
Once inside the MRI scanner, you’ll still be able to talk to the technologist. You will be asked to hold very still. The time of the scan will vary. The average is between 15–45 minutes.
If your doctor has requested an arthrogram, you will be given an injection of “dye” into the joint by a radiologist. The radiologist will discuss this with you prior to the injection.
You may resume your normal activities unless otherwise instructed by your physician. Our radiologists are specialists in bones and joints and will report the results of your MRI examination directly to your doctor.