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Bone Density Scan

A bone density scan, also called a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, uses a small dose of ionizing radiation to scan and measure calcium and other minerals in your bones.

What is a bone density scan?

A bone density scan, also called a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry or DEXA scan, uses a small dose of ionizing radiation to measure the amount of calcium and other minerals in your bones. This type of scan often takes less than 30 minutes, and is noninvasive. 

What conditions does a bone density scan help diagnose?

A bone density scan is most commonly used to determine your risk for bone fractures, detect the onset of osteoporosis, or monitor the treatment of osteoporosis. 

Osteoporosis occurs when your body isn’t able to keep up with production of new bone tissue to replace old bone tissue. This causes your bones to become weak and brittle. Breaks and fractures in your bones (most commonly hip, wrist and spine) can be caused by simply bumping into things or even coughing. 

Though osteoporosis can impact anyone, risk factors are heightened for those assigned female at birth and those who experience early menopause. 

Osteoporosis symptoms include:

How should I prepare for my bone density scan?

Your doctor may encourage you to avoid taking calcium supplements 24 hours ahead of the exam. It’s also important to let your doctor know if you may be pregnant, recently had a barium exam, or received an injection of contrast material (such as for a CT or radioisotope scan). 

What should I expect on the day of my bone density scan?

The day of your bone density scan, leave any jewelry or other metal objects at home. Wear loose, comfortable clothing. For the test, you’ll lie on a table and a scanner will pass over your body. This machine will send X-rays through bones in your lower spine and hips (and potential forearm) to measure mineral amounts in your bone.   

What happens after my bone density scan?

After your bone density scan, you’ll receive a score, which is a combination of a “T” score and a “Z” score. Your specially trained radiologist will consult with your provider for any follow-up care needed.

Why you should choose The Iowa Clinic for your bone density scan

When you choose The Iowa Clinic for your bone density scan, you are choosing a collaborative,  interconnected healthcare team dedicated to supporting your care journey. We communicate closely across departments and disciplines to ensure a smooth and streamlined experience from diagnosis to treatment. Choose the Iowa Clinic for a professional and empathetic healthcare experience tailored to your unique needs.   

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