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Bone Density Test - DXA

PinnacleHealth provides osteoporosis screenings, bone density tests, and treatment options on both the East and West shores. The GE Lunar DXA Axial bone densitometer, one of the most advanced diagnostic tools for osteoporosis, helps detect the disease at its earliest stages so patients can get the treatment they need. Free, walk-in heel/finger AccuDXA scans are also available at most locations.

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a disease which progresses silentlyand, over time, weakens bone. There are no warning signs until a fracture occurs. Osteoporosis affects nearly half of all postmenopausal women and almost one in three men over the age of 65. More than 1.5 million osteoporosis-related fractures occur each year.

How do you know if you are at risk for osteoporosis?

Start thinking about osteoporosis now, no matter what your age. A diet rich in calcium, vitamin D, and regular weight-bearing exercise can help keep your bones healthy. And while osteoporosis affects nearly one-half of all postmenopausal women, young women who are athletes, have low estrogen, are asthmatic, or take steroids are at increased risk.

Ask your doctor about the risk factors for osteoporosis. Although much can be done to determine your risk based on your medical history, the gold standard, state-of-the-art test for osteoporosis is a bone density test done with a machine called a DXA axial bone densitometer.

What is a DXA Scan?

The DXA scan is sometimes referred to as a bone density test. A special X-ray machine called a DXA (dual X-ray absorptiometry) is used to scan the hip and spine to detect early loss of bone. The test is performed by a qualified X-ray technologist.

What will happen during the test?

You will be asked to lie down on a padded exam table. The DXA scan takes about 20 minutes. The table is not enclosed in any way, and the room is similar to an exam room in your doctor's office. You remain fully clothed for the test, as long as you do not wear any metal zippers, buttons, or belts. We suggest you wear loose-fitting pants or shorts with an elastic band. No dyes or injections are used. There is no discomfort or pain caused by the DXA scan.

When are the test results available?

The results of the DXA scan will be interpreted by a radiologist. Once the results have been interpreted, a report of your exam will be sent to your physician. Your physician's office will call you with the final results.

Is there any advance preparation for the bone density test?

You should wear loose-fitting clothes with an elastic waist band. Do not wear a girdle, a long-line bra, or anything with metal buttons, snaps, zippers, or belt.

You should not have this test done within one week of any kind of barium X-ray studies, including CT scans and nuclear medicine scans.

Please inform the technologist if you have any kind of bone implant, rods, staples, or pacemaker. These objects can interfere with the DXA scan. Bring the names and dosages of any medication you may be taking along with you. You will be asked to complete a medical history questionnaire when you arrive for your appointment. This questionnaire will be reviewed with you to determine any risks you may have for developing osteoporosis.

Free Bone Density Heel or Finger Screenings

Free Bone Density Heel or Finger Screenings are available at all of our outpatient Imaging sites. Walk-in screenings are available at all of our locations except Tristán Radiology Specialists locations. To schedule a screening at a Tristán location or for more information,  please call PinnacleHealth/Tristán Central Scheduling (717) 230-3700 or toll-free at 1-866-455-9729.