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What is a DEXA scan and what is it used for?

Bone density scans are often used to diagnose or assess your risk of osteoporosis, a health condition that weakens bones and makes them more likely to break.

What does a DEXA scan show?

The results from a bone density scan are usually used alongside a fracture risk assessment to assess your chances of osteoporosis and breaking a bone. Your bone density measurements will be compared with the bone density of a young healthy adult or an adult of your own age, gender, and ethnicity.

Why would I need this kind of scan?

A DEXA scan may be recommended if you have an increased risk of developing a bone problem like osteoporosis.

Your risk is increased if you:

  • have had a broken bone after a minor fall or injury
  • have been taking medicines called oral glucocorticoids for 3 months or more – glucocorticoids are used to treat inflammation, but can also cause weakened bones
  • are a woman who has had an early menopause, or you had your ovaries removed at a young age (before 45) and have not had hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
  • are a postmenopausal woman and you smoke or drink heavily, have a family history of hip fractures, or a body mass index (BMI) of less than 21

What is the radiation risk?

As well as being quick and painless, a bone density scan is more effective than normal X-rays in identifying low bone density. The amount of radiation used during a bone density scan is very low and less than 2 days’ exposure to natural background radiation.

Can I book myself in for a scan or do I need a referral?

DEXA results need to be reviewed and acted upon by your general practitioner so they or a consultant should be the point of referral. Self-referral is not currently available.

Contact Us

To speak with a specialist about a DEXA Scan, contact our team today.
We are available from Monday to Friday: 8am – 8pm.