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Massachusetts General Hospital Imaging provides bone densitometry testing on the Mass General main campus and at Mass General West Imaging - Waltham. No matter which facility you come to, our staff places priority on making your journey through the imaging process comfortable, safe, and successful. All images are read by a radiologist with specialty expertise in the area of the body being studied.
Bone densitometry overview:
Bone densitometry in depth
What is a bone densitometry exam?
Bone densitometry scanning, also called dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA or DEXA) or simply a "bone density scan," is an enhanced form of X-ray technology that is used to measure bone loss. DEXA is today's established standard for measuring bone mineral densitometry.
An X-ray (radiograph) is a painless medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions. Radiography involves exposing a part of the body to a small dose of ionizing radiation to produce pictures of the inside of the body. X-rays are the oldest and most frequently used form of medical imaging.
Bone densitometry is most often performed on the lower spine and hips.
Bone densitometry is most often used to diagnose osteoporosis, a condition that often affects women after menopause but may also be found in men. Osteoporosis involves a gradual loss of calcium, causing the bones to become thinner, more fragile and more likely to break.
The exam is also effective in tracking the effects of treatment for osteoporosis and other conditions that cause bone loss. The test can also assess an individual's risk for developing fractures.
Bone densitometry testing is strongly recommended if you:
The Lateral Vertebral Assessment (LVA), a low-dose X-ray examination of the spine to screen for vertebral fractures that is performed on the DEXA machine, may be recommended for older patients, especially if you:
Special care is taken during X-ray examinations to use the lowest radiation dose possible while producing the best images for evaluation. National and international radiology protection councils continually review and update the technique standards used by radiology professionals.
State-of-the-art X-ray systems have tightly controlled X-ray beams with significant filtration and dose control methods to minimize stray or scatter radiation. This ensures those parts of a patient's body not being imaged receive minimal radiation exposure.
What should I expect BEFORE my bone densitometry exam?
What will I experience DURING my bone densitometry exam?
What should I expect AFTER my bone densitometry exam?
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