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DEXA scans are used to evaluate bone mineral density and total body composition including fat content and lean soft tissue (muscle mass) , with a high degree of accuracy. The DEXA-scan has the added advantage of reduced radiation as compared to a conventional X-ray (approximately 1/10th that of a standard chest X-ray). According to the National Institutes of Health, the radiation exposure of .001 rem or less from a DEXA scan is comparable to average exposure from natural background radiation sources.
Women have DEXA scans after menopause to monitor signs of osteoporosis, but men’s bone density falls off as well due to falling testosterone levels. Patients who have undergone chemotherapy are also at risk. Current recommendations suggest that all women over the age of 65, postmenopausal women under the age of 65 who have multiple risk factors, patients who have taken a long-term course of oral corticosteroids, and patients with a hyperparathyroidism should have a DEXA scan to determine bone density and risks.
DEXA scan is the gold standard used when diagnosing osteoporosis, but it will also establish if you are at a higher risk than others in the norm group to sustain a bone fracture.
This test takes about 10 minutes to complete and is totally painless. With the DEXA scan the bones in the hip, the spine, or the wrist are examined to determine the accurate density of the bone. It also helps us determine how quickly you are losing bone mass, as well as predict your risk of fracture. The test is also used to follow the course of the disease and monitor the effects of various treatment programs.
DEXA is also fast becoming the new “gold standard” to analyze percentage body fat because it provides a higher degree of precision in only one measurement and has the ability to show exactly where fat is distributed throughout the body. It is very reliable and its results extremely repeatable; in addition, the method is safe and presents little burden to the subject. It is vastly more accurate than the calipers or bio-electrical impedence techniques. DEXA allows us to measure exactly how a patient’s body changes as they progress with their weight loss or age management programs.