How is the procedure performed?
This quick, painless and noninvasive exam is done on an outpatient basis by a technician in the Silver Cross Center for Women’s Health.
During the exam, the non-pregnant patient weighing 350 lbs. or less lies on a padded table. An x-ray generator is located below the patient and an imaging device, or detector, is positioned above.
To assess the bone density in the spine, the patient’s legs are supported on a padded box to flatten the pelvis and lower spine. To assess the bone density in the hip, the patient’s foot is placed in a brace that rotates the hip inward. In both cases, the detector is slowly passed over the area, generating images on a computer monitor.
The DEXA machine sends a thin, invisible beam of low-dose x-rays with two distinct energy peaks through the bones being examined. One peak is absorbed mainly by soft tissue and the other by bone. The soft tissue amount can be subtracted from the total and what remains is a patient’s bone mineral density. No radiation remains in a patient’s body after the test.
DEXA machines feature special software that compute and display the bone density measurements on a computer monitor.
Note: Patients who also need a radiological test or nuclear medicine study that includes barium or contrast, should have bone density study first, or wait a week after contrast/barium study.
Who interprets the results and how will I get them?
A radiologist in the Silver Cross Center for Women’s Health will analyze the images and send a report to your physician, who will discuss the results with you.
Your test results will be in the form of two scores:
- T score — This number shows the amount of bone you have compared with a young adult of the same gender with peak bone mass. A score above -1 is considered normal. A score between -1 and -2.5 is classified as osteopenia (low bone mass). A score below -2.5 is defined as osteoporosis. The T score is used to estimate your risk of developing a fracture.
- Z score — This number reflects the amount of bone you have compared with other people in your age group and of the same size and gender. If this score is unusually high or low, it may indicate a need for further medical tests.
Schedule an appointment for a bone densitometry DEXAScan online or call (815) 300-7076. A physician’s order is required.