Bone Density Testing

DEXA Bone Density Test and Vertebral Fracture Assessment

A DEXA (Dual-Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry) bone density test is ordered to determine if you have osteoporosis or low bone mass. This DEXA scan is a safe, painless and quick test that can measure bone strength and predict fracture risk before you develop osteoporosis so effective preventive therapy can be started. Bone density tests are also used to monitor the response to particular medications. According to The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), almost 34 million Americans are estimated to have low bone mass, placing them at an increased risk for osteoporosis. Most individuals with osteoporosis do not know they have the disease until they suffer an obvious fracture.

Vertebral compression fractures often occur without significant pain and are an additional sign of osteoporosis. Multiple studies confirm that up to 75% of compression fractures of the spine are present without pain. The same DEXA equipment used for bone density testing can obtain a picture of the middle and lower spine to allow a radiologist to evaluate your spine for compression fractures. The presence of a vertebral compression fracture further increases the risk of suffering an additional osteoporosis related fracture and is therefore an important piece of clinical information which can allow your physician to better treat the condition.

We utilize Hologic DEXA equipment for both DEXA bone density and vertebral fracture assessment. A DEXA scan is considered to be the gold standard for diagnosing and monitoring bone loss.

Our Technologists are ISCD-certified in bone densitometry and provide patients with NOF educational materials and counsel them on osteoporosis prevention and general treatment options. ISCD (International Society of Clinical Densitometry) certified radiologists who specialize in osteoporosis care interpret all bone density studies, which insures high quality patient care and clinically comprehensive reports for your physician.

Reasons for Having a DEXA Bone Density Test

There are a number of risk factors for osteoporosis. If you are at risk, a DEXA bone density test can identify reduced bone mass before obvious symptoms of osteoporosis appear. Measures can then be taken to prevent further bone loss and osteoporosis-related fractures.

DEXA bone density studies may also be used to evaluate the success of preventive therapy for osteoporosis.

Risks Involved in a DEXA Bone Density Test

There is the risk of x-ray exposure; however, it is well below the level that causes adverse affects.

Conditions to Let Our Doctor Know About

In advance of your exam, let your technologist know if any of the following circumstances apply to you:

  • Currently pregnant
  • Any barium contrast exams within 1 week of scheduled appointment
  • Over age 70

Insurance Coverage

DXA bone density studies are usually covered by insurance when ordered by a physician (there must be an indication to perform the exam). Check with your insurance carrier to be sure. Please bring your insurance card with you to your exam.

Scheduling Your DEXA Scan

To schedule a DEXA bone density test, call 212-661-7673.

Preparation Guidelines

Wear loose, comfortable clothing, preferably without zippers, buttons, grommets, underwires or any metal, to the exam.

Do not schedule this exam within one week after having an exam that uses barium, a radioisotope injection, or oral or intravenous contrast material (such as an MRI or CT scan).

What to Expect During Your Exam

We ask that you arrive 15 minutes prior to your scheduled time in order to complete a medical history questionnaire that is important for the DEXA interpretation. The technologist will ask you questions regarding your medical history and measure your height. You will need to remove all jewelry, hair accessories, glasses, and other metal objects as they may interfere will the exam. For the exam, you will lie still on a padded table while the DEXA unit scans two or more areas, usually the hip and lower spine. Occasionally, an additional vertebral fracture assessment will be performed of your mid and lower spine to determine if there are compression fractures.

Once the exam is complete, your technologist will counsel you on National Osteoporosis Foundation preventative measures. The entire procedure takes approximately 15 minutes.

Recovering from Your Exam

You can return to your normal activities immediately after your bone density study.

Getting Your Exam Results

Specially trained and experienced radiologists, certified by the International Society of Clinical Densitometry (ISCD) interpret all of our exams. You will not receive your results the day of the exam from the technologist who performs the exam. You will however, receive a letter with the results written in lay language when you meet with your physician who ordered the test.

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