Bone Densitometry – DEXA Scan
What is a DEXA scan?
Bone densitometry, more commonly known as a DEXA scan, is a simple, painless imaging study used to measure bone mineral density and accurately diagnose and monitor osteoporosis.
Main Line Health offers DEXA scanning at 10 convenient health centers and hospital locations throughout the Philadelphia region.
DEXA scan: frequently asked questions
Women age 65 and older should schedule a DEXA scan to determine their risk for osteoporosis. If you’re a woman age 64 or younger and have gone through menopause or you're a man concerned about your bone strength, your health care provider may recommend a DEXA scan.
A DEXA scan measures subtle changes to bone density in the entire body, including the spine and extremities. This 30-minute test is performed with no injections, sedation or advanced preparation and exposes patients to less radiation than most imaging studies.
A DEXA scan is covered by some insurance providers, but not by others. Please check with your insurance company to find out whether this service is covered by your plan. If your insurance does not cover a DEXA scan, you may choose to pay for the service out-of-pocket.
An experienced Main Line Health radiologist will analyze your DEXA scan and send a report to your referring physician, who will inform you on your test results. Results may also be accessed in your MyChart account.
Although DEXA scanning is the best method for measuring bone density, certain conditions may interfere with the accuracy of test. Those conditions include:
- Spinal deformities or previous spinal surgery
- Vertebral compression fractures or degenerative diseases such as osteoarthritis
- Calcium in the blood vessels that overlie the area being scanned (this condition, sometimes found in patients with heart disease, may falsely increase bone density)
In addition, pregnant women should not undergo X-ray tests because exposure to ionizing radiation may harm the fetus.