A DEXA scan, also known as a dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry scan, is a medical test that measures bone density. It is used to diagnose osteoporosis, a condition in which bones become weak and brittle, making them more likely to break.
During a DEXA scan, a small amount of radiation is passed through the bones, and the amount of radiation absorbed by the bones is measured. The results of the test are usually reported as a T-score, which compares the patient’s bone density to that of a healthy young adult of the same gender. A T-score of -1 or above is considered normal bone density, while a T-score between -1 and -2.5 indicates osteopenia (lower-than-normal bone density) and a T-score of -2.5 or below indicates osteoporosis.
DEXA scans are typically recommended for women over the age of 65 and men over the age of 70, as well as for younger people who have a higher risk of osteoporosis due to factors such as a family history of the condition or certain medical conditions. The test is painless and non-invasive, and takes only a few minutes to complete.
In addition to diagnosing osteoporosis, DEXA scans can also be used to monitor the progress of treatment for the condition and to assess the risk of fractures. They may also be used to diagnose other conditions that affect bone density, such as hyperparathyroidism or Paget’s disease.