Advanced imaging to support bone health
Bone Densitometry at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital–Milton
Some orthopedic conditions cause bones to lose their structure and strength. However, we can’t see these changes happening from the outside.
That’s why the experts at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital–Milton offer bone densitometry imaging, also called bone density scan and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Bone densitometry is an enhanced form of X-ray technology that measures bone loss. Working closely with our Orthopedic and Radiology specialists, we can detect and treat bone conditions early.
Bone Densitometry & Bone Loss
Bone densitometry is most often used to diagnose conditions that cause bone loss or changes to the bone’s structure. Most of the time, it’s used to look at bones in the hip and spine area.
The most common condition we diagnose with bone densitometry is osteoporosis, which causes a gradual loss of calcium in the bones. Osteoporosis also causes changes in the bone structure, making them thinner, more fragile and more likely to break.
What to Expect With a Bone Densitometry Scan
You don’t have to do any special preparation for a bone densitometry scan. However, here are a few steps you should consider beforehand:
- Avoid calcium supplements for at least 24 hours before your scan.
- Arrive 15 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment time to complete paperwork. To save time, you can complete the patient history questionnaire before arriving.
- Wear comfortable clothing. Avoid wearing anything that contains metal, which can interfere with the X-ray process. This includes zippers, buttons, clasps and jewelry.
- Tell your doctor if you recently had a barium examination or have been injected with a contrast material. If so, we may need to reschedule your scan.
- Inform your doctor if you are or may be pregnant.
The scan is a painless procedure. During the exam, you lie on a padded table. An X-ray generator is located below you with an imaging device positioned above.
The X-ray produces a small amount of radiation to generate the images. The amount of radiation used is small — less than one-tenth the dose of a standard chest X-ray. It’s also less than the exposure you get each day from natural radiation.
The bone densitometry procedure usually takes 10 to 30 minutes to complete.
A radiologist reviews your results and discusses them with your doctor. Your doctor will then explain the results to you.