DEXA Scan or Bone Density Scan - Purpose, Preparation, and More | Life Medical Centre

DEXA Scan or Bone Density Scan - Purpose, Preparation, and More


Maintaining strong and healthy bones is crucial for overall well-being, as they provide structural support to our bodies. However, as we age, the risk of developing conditions like osteoporosis increases, making it essential to monitor bone health regularly. One of the most effective diagnostic tools for assessing bone density is the DEXA scan, also known as a bone density scan. In this blog, we will explore the purpose of DEXA scans, the preparation required, and their significance in managing and preventing osteoporosis.

Bone Density and Its Importance

Bone density refers to the amount of minerals and calcium present in your bones, indicating their strength and resistance to fractures. Maintaining adequate bone density is vital, as low bone mass can increase the risk of fractures, especially in individuals with osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by weak and brittle bones, primarily affecting older adults, particularly women after menopause. It is estimated that over 200 million people worldwide suffer from osteoporosis, with fractures occurring in one out of three women and one out of five men over the age of 50.

Purpose of DEXA Scan

A DEXA scan is a painless and non-invasive imaging procedure that uses dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) to measure bone density. The primary purpose of a DEXA scan is to assess the risk of fracture and diagnose osteoporosis. By analyzing the bone mineral content in different areas of the body, such as the spine, hip, or forearm, DEXA scans provide valuable information about bone health and the likelihood of fractures. These scans are especially beneficial for individuals at higher risk of osteoporosis, including postmenopausal women, older adults, and those with a family history of the condition.

Preparation for a DEXA Scan

Preparing for a DEXA scan is relatively simple. Here are a few essential steps to follow:

  1. Clothing: Wear loose and comfortable clothing, free from metal buttons, zippers, or accessories. Metal interferes with the accuracy of the scan, so it's important to avoid such items.
  2. Dietary Considerations: There are no dietary restrictions before a DEXA scan. You can eat normally and take any prescribed medications unless advised otherwise by your healthcare provider.
  3. Supplements and Medications: Inform your doctor about any calcium or vitamin D supplements you are taking, as well as any medications that may influence bone density. This information helps ensure accurate interpretation of the scan results.

Interpreting DEXA Scan Results

After the DEXA scan, the results are interpreted using T-scores. These scores compare an individual's bone density to that of a healthy young adult of the same sex. The T-score provides insights into the likelihood of developing fractures.

  • A T-score between +1 and -1 indicates normal bone density.
  • A T-score between -1 and -2.5 suggests low bone mass (osteopenia).
  • A T-score below -2.5 indicates osteoporosis.

Your healthcare provider will review the results and discuss appropriate treatment options or preventive measures based on your bone health status.

Factors Affecting Bone Health

Several factors can influence bone health. Some of the key factors to consider include:

  1. Age: As we age, bone density gradually decreases, making regular monitoring crucial, especially for older adults.
  2. Gender: Women, particularly after menopause, are at higher risk of osteoporosis due to hormonal changes that affect bone density.
  3. Lifestyle Choices: Sedentary lifestyles, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, and poor nutrition can all contribute to decreased bone density and an increased risk of fractures.

Osteoporosis Management and Prevention

If osteoporosis is diagnosed, various treatment options are available to manage the condition and prevent further bone loss. Your healthcare provider, including an orthopaedic doctor, may recommend a combination of the following:

  1. Medications: Certain medications can help slow down bone loss, increase bone density, and reduce the risk of fractures.
  2. Lifestyle Modifications: Regular weight-bearing exercises, a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption contribute to maintaining healthy bones.
  3. Fall Prevention: Minimizing the risk of falls is essential in preventing fractures. Removing tripping hazards at home, using assistive devices, and ensuring proper lighting are a few measures that can significantly reduce the risk of falling.


Regular monitoring of bone density through DEXA scans is crucial for detecting osteoporosis and assessing the risk of fractures. By identifying low bone mass early on, individuals can take proactive steps to manage their bone health and prevent further deterioration. Life Medical Centre offers comprehensive orthopaedic care and radiology services, including DEXA scans, to help you maintain strong and healthy bones. Don't hesitate to book an appointment today with our expert orthopedic doctors and radiology specialists. Call us at 043 44 1122 at Life Medical Centre