Brattleboro Memorial Hospital offers bone density tests to help predict fracture risk in the same manner that measuring blood pressure can help predict the risk of stroke. The DEXA scan, a non-invasive and painless scan of the hip and lower spine, helps diagnose early risk for osteoporosis. The test is more sensitive than ordinary x-ray and can diagnose bone loss at an earlier stage, preventing increased bone loss. A DEXA scan is recommended for all women age 50 and older. A bone density test is quick, painless and the preferred method to measure the mass of bone, or Bone Mineral Density (BMD), particularly in postmenopausal women, 40% of whom has osteopenia (low bone density. An additional 7% have osteoporosis, and osteoporosis-related fractures are associated with hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations which stresses the important of early detection and appropriate prescription therapy.
How should I prepare?
- On the day of the exam you may eat normally. You should not take calcium supplements for at least 24 hours before your exam.
- You should wear loose, comfortable clothing, avoiding garments that have zippers, belts or buttons made of metal. Objects such as keys or wallets that would be in the area being scanned should be removed.
- You may be asked to remove some or all of your clothes and to wear a gown during the exam. You may also be asked to remove jewelry, removable dental appliances, eye glasses and any metal objects or clothing that might interfere with the x-ray images.
- Women should always inform their physician and x-ray technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant. Many imaging tests are not performed during pregnancy so as not to expose the fetus to radiation. If an x-ray is necessary, precautions will be taken to minimize radiation exposure to the baby.
What will I experience during and after the procedure?
Bone density tests are a quick and painless procedure.
Routine evaluations every two years may be needed to see a significant change in bone mineral density, decrease or increase. Few patients, such as patients on high dose steroid medication, may need follow-up at six months.