Dual X-ray Absorptiometry (DXA)

What Is a DXA?

Dual X-ray Absorptiometry is a scan/exam to determine how strong your bones are. Sometimes you’ll hear a DXA scan called a “bone density scan.” DXA is used to evaluate your bone health and to determine your overall risk of fracture due to osteoporosis. DXA’s focus mainly on two areas: the hip and the spine specifically. These general areas will give your clinician an overall good idea of your fracture risk over your entire body. While DXA’s utilize radiation to produce images, the doses are very small.

Who Should Get a DXA Scan?

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says people who should get DXA scans for bone density include:

  • Women ages 65 or older
  • Women ages 60 or older who have a higher chance of getting a fracture

What Can I Expect During My DXA Scan?

You’ll lay flat with your knees raised on an open X-ray table. The scanner will pass over you. The machine produces two X-ray beams, one high energy and one low. The machine measures the number of X-rays that pass through your bones during each pass. Based on the difference between the two, your bone density levels can be determined through a series of calculations on a computer.

DXA scans are fairly quick in duration, typically from 10-20 minutes.