Bone Densitometry (DEXA)

Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, or DEXA (DXA), is used for measuring bone density.

A DEXA scanner is a machine that produces two X-ray beams, each with different energy levels. The amount of X-rays that pass through the bone is measured for each beam. This will vary depending on the thickness of the bone. Based on the difference between the two beams, the bone density can be measured.

We use the information to estimate bone strength and the likelihood of breakage or fracture. DEXA is relatively easy to perform and the amount of radiation exposure is low.

Make an appointment

Call us at 205-802-6900 to schedule an appointment for a DEXA exam.

What are some common uses of DEXA?

DEXA helps physicians diagnose and treat osteoporosis. It is especially useful in assessing a patient’s risk for developing bone fractures.

During a DEXA exam, the technologist will usually focus on the spine and hips, which are weight-bearing areas that can be more susceptible to fractures.

What should I expect during this exam?

DEXA exams are quick and painless. Most patients are not required to change into a gown, depending on the area of the body being scanned.

During the scan, you will be asked to lie on a flat, padded table and hold very still for about five minutes.

How should I prepare for a DEXA exam?

  • Do not take calcium in pill form within 24 hours of your appointment.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing without zippers or metal buttons.
  • There are no food or drink restrictions prior to your appointment.

What are the indications for bone density testing?

  • Women age 65 and older
  • Men age 70 and older
  • Adults with a fragility fracture
  • Adults with a disease or condition associated with low bone density
  • Adults taking medications associated with low bone density
  • Anyone being treated for low bone density to monitor treatment effect
  • Anyone not receiving therapy, in whom evidence of bone loss would lead to treatment

What are risk factors associated for osteoporosis?

  • Caucasian or Asian descent
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Broken bones from a minor injury
  • Thin build
  • Drink several caffeinated or alcoholic beverages a day

Learn more about preparing for your visit.