DXA Bone Density Test and Vertebral Fracture Assessment

General Information | Scheduling, Insurance and Preparation | What to Expect


General information General Information

About DXA Bone Density Tests

A DXA scan can be used to find non-symptomatic compression fractures in the spine, which are associated with osteoporosis.

DXA (Dual-Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry) bone density testing is ordered to determine if you have osteoporosis or low bone mass. This device uses an x-ray technique. It is a safe, painless and quick test that measures bone strength and predicts fracture risk before the development of osteoporosis.

The information provided by the scan allows your doctor to determine if you need preventive therapy for osteoporosis. Bone density tests are also used to monitor the response to particular medications.

What Vertebral Compression Fractures Are

Vertebral compression fractures are caused by the vertebrae collapsing. They often occur without significant pain but result in height loss, and are a sign of osteoporosis. Studies show that up to 75% of compression fractures of the spine exist without causing pain. The same DXA equipment used for bone density testing is also used to obtain a picture of the middle and lower spine. This allows a radiologist to check your spine for compression fractures.

The presence of a vertebral compression fracture increases the risk of additional fractures. This important piece of information will allow your physician to better treat the condition.

DXA Exams at Invision Sally Jobe

All Invision Sally Jobe facilities that offer this exam utilize state-of-the-art Hologic DXA equipment for both DXA bone density and vertebral fracture assessment.

Technologists are certified by the International Society of Clinical Densitometry in bone densitometry. They provide patients with National Osteoporosis Foundation educational materials and counsel them on osteoporosis prevention and general treatment options.

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Risks Involved in a DXA Bone Density Test

There is the risk of radiation exposure; however, it is well below the level that generally causes adverse affects.


Scheduling, Insurance and Preparation Scheduling, Insurance and Preparation

Exam Locations

A DXA bone density test can be done at the following Invision Sally Jobe locations in the Denver, Colorado area:

Call 720-493-3700 to schedule.

Scheduling

Contact your personal physician for a referral for this exam. Then call 720-493-3700 to schedule.

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 company to be sure. Please bring your insurance card with you to your exam.

Conditions to Let Us Know About

In advance of your exam, let your scheduler or 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

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 the following:

  • Barium
  • A radioisotope injection
  • Oral or intravenous contrast material (such as an MRI or CT scan)

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What to Expect What to Expect

Before the Exam

Please arrive 15 minutes prior to your scheduled time in order to complete a medical history questionnaire that is important for the DXA interpretation.

During the Exam

A DXA bone density test can help identify reduced bone mass before obvious symptoms of osteoporosis appear.

Here is generally what will happen during a DXA bone density test:

  1. A technologist will ask you questions regarding your medical history and measure your height.
  2. You will need to remove all jewelry, hair accessories, glasses, and other metal objects.
  3. The technologist will position you on the DXA table.
  4. You will need to lie still while the DXA unit completes the scans. The unit will scan two or more areas, usually the hip and lower spine. Occasionally, an additional scan or your mid and lower spine will be done. This is to determine if there are vertebral compression fractures.
  5. The technologist will counsel you on National Osteoporosis Foundation preventative measures.

The scan is completely painless and will take about 15 minutes to complete.

After the Exam

Recovery

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

Exam Results

A board-certified radiologist experienced in the interpretation of DXA bone density tests and vertebral fracture assessments will analyze the data and results from your exam. The results will be reported to your physician. Your physician will pass the results onto you.

During the exam, our radiologists and technologists will be happy to answer questions about the exam itself; however, they will not immediately provide you with the results of your exam.

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