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All That You Wanted To Know About Bone Density Scans

Bone Density Scan, also popularly known as DXA is a simple procedure that pertains to measuring bone loss. This procedure is used to measure bone loss that may pertain to the spine, hip or any other areas of the body.

What is a bone density scan?
In simple words, bone density scans can be best described as an enhanced form of X ray scanning. It is used as a standard technique to measure bone mineral density. Bone density scans are also used to measure mineral loss. It is also known as dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) or bone densitometry. DXA is usually performed on the lower bones and the hips.

Why is a bone density scan required?
Though a bone density scan may be used for several purposes, it is primarily required to diagnose osteoporosis. In simple words, osteoporosis can be defined as a condition that involves gradual loss of calcium. This condition is usually found in women after menopause. However, it can affect men too.

Bone density scan or DXA is used to estimate the calcium loss caused due to the condition. Besides, it is also used to track the effects of treatment of osteoporosis. It may also be used as a part of the treatment procedure of any condition that may result in bone loss.

Who needs a bone density scan?
Anyone suffering from a condition that may result in bone loss needs a Bone Density Scan or DXA. However, there are some cases where the need of bone density scan becomes inevitable. Here are some of them.

* Women who are not taking estrogen post menopause
* History of hip fracture
* Post menopausal women who are taller than 5 feet 7 inches
* Use of medications that may result in bone loss
* Individuals who have a high bone turnover or thyroid condition

How does the procedure work?
The Bone Density Scan is carried out through a simple procedure and is absolutely painless. The procedure involves sending thin, invisible beam of X rays that have a low concentration. The X rays sent have two distinct energy peaks. While one energy peak is absorbed mainly by the soft tissue, the other energy peak is absorbed by the bone.

Equipment used for DXA makes use of two main devices i.e. a central device and a peripheral device. While the central DXA device is used to measure the bone density of the hip and the spine, the peripheral device is used to measure the density in the wrist, heel or finger. The procedure is absolutely simple and painless and takes only an hour.