What is a DEXAscan 1

What is a DEXA Scan?

DEXA, which stands for “dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry”, is a medical imaging test that measures bone density using the mineral content of the bones in certain areas of the skeleton. DEXA scans can measure bone loss as you age. If your bone density is lower than normal for your age, a DEXA scan may indicate a risk for osteoporosis and bone fractures. 

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a term used to describe brittle bones and also the risk for having a broken bone. As you age, bones can lose thickness and strength. Before DEXA or other types of bone scans, the first sign of bone density loss might be when an older adult broke a bone.

How is DEXA performed?

  1. You will be asked to lie on a special DEXA x-ray table. The technologist will help position yours correctly and use positioning devices such as foam blocks to help hold the desired position.
  2. DEXA machines use two different x-ray beams. The beams use very little radiation to keep the test safer and help to distinguish bone from other tissues.
  3. The scanner translates the bone density measurement data into pictures and graphs. Bone is most easily seen in white, while fat and muscle tissue look like shadows in the background on the technologist’s computer monitor.
  4. These results are then reviewed and interpreted by a radiologist or other physician trained in DEXA interpretation.
  5. Your healthcare provider is sent a copy of the written report to discuss with you and consider what treatment is most appropriate.

Your doctor may order a DEXA scan:

  • if you’re a woman over age 65 or a man over 70, which is the recommendation of the National Osteoporosis Foundation and other medical groups
  • if you have symptoms of osteoporosis
  • if you break a bone after age 50
  • if you’re a man, age 50 to 59, or a postmenopausal woman under 65 with risk factors

The World Health Organization (WHO) established DEXA as the best technique for assessing bone mineral density in postmenopausal women. 

The test is noninvasive, fast, and more accurate than a regular X-ray. It involves an extremely low level of radiation.

What does a DEXA scan cost?

The cost of a DEXA scan varies, based on where you live and the type of facility performing the test.

Insurance companies usually cover all or part of the cost if your doctor has ordered the bone scan as medically necessary. With insurance, you may have a copay. Depending on your deductible, or if you don’t have insurance, it may be more cost-effective to use cash to pay for scans. 

Many healthcare providers and imaging centers offer discounted self-pay cash rates since they get money upfront. It’s faster and they won’t have to deal with the costs of dealing with insurance payments. Something to consider, however, is that by paying cash, the money you spend will NOT count towards your deductible. 

To book a scan, visit us at Medmo.com. Medmo helps people schedule radiology imaging tests – such as MRI, CT scans, PET, and more – at nearby accredited centers and identify the payment solution that works best for them.


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