DEXA Scan (Dual-Energy X-Ray Absorption) - Bone Density Test

A DEXA scan is a test that measures bone mineral density. It helps in evaluating bone health and determining the likelihood of osteoporosis or bone fractures. This scan may also help in detecting if cancer has metastasized or spread to the bones.

For a patient diagnosed with cancer, doctors may perform a baseline DEXA scan before and during treatment to monitor their bone health. Based on the results, measures will be taken to help prevent bone loss. The quick and painless scan uses low levels of X-rays to measure bone mineral density. The patient is made to lie on a table for 15-20 minutes as their entire skeleton and/or specific points on the body are scanned. Once the scan is complete, the results are composed of two different scores:

T-Score: The difference between the patient’s bone density and that of an average healthy person. This score is used to determine the patient’s risk of breaking a bone.

Z-Score: The amount of bone the patient has compared to other people of the same age, race and gender. A score that is too high or too low may require more testing.

During the procedure, the imaging arm moves slowly over the person’s body while a beam of low-dose energy passes through them. It is crucial to remain still throughout the scan.

When the purpose is to measure bone density, the technician tends to scan the hips and spine. These are common locations of fractures in people with osteoporosis. In some cases, the technician scans the wrist, finger, and lower arm. At some locations, there may also be a vertebral fracture assessmentTrusted Source during a DEXA scan.

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