DEXA Scan FAQs

Have an upcoming DEXA Scan? You can learn more about this imaging test from answers to frequently asked questions from Atlantic Medical Imaging.

How often should I have this done? Every year or two years?

We recommend that patients receive a DEXA scan at least every two years. In certain situations, such as patients taking Fosomax, it may be appropriate to have a study yearly.

Why are you scanning my left hip when the pain is in my right hip?

The left hip and lumbar spine were chosen by the investigators who first utilized DEXA scanning. The bone in the lumbar spine and left hip have different amounts of cortical bone (bone on the surface) and cancellous bone (bone on the inside) which is why they were chosen. All patients are scanned in these two regions, unless some problem precludes looking at these areas, so that there is uniformity in reporting.

Why must I abstain from taking a calcium supplement before having a DEXA?

Calcium supplements may not be totally absorbed if taken close to the time of the DEXA scan. The calcium may then overlie the lower spine and falsely increase the density in this region.

Will I be enclosed in a tube like an MRI?

No. You will be lying comfortably on your back. A small sensor will pass over your lower spine and left hip.

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