What is a bone density scan?

A bone density scan is an imaging test which uses minimal radiation to measure the calcium content of the bone. It is used to determine bone strength.


How does it work?

Bone density scanning, also called dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA), or bone densitometry, is an enhanced form of X-ray technology used to measure bone loss or osteoporosis. It uses a DEXA scanner and gives a reading of bone density in relation to the average for a person of your size and weight.

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is reduced calcium content of bone and can increase the risk of fracture. It affects women and men.  For some women calcium loss may be rapid and severe. The consequences of osteoporosis include pain, disability and deformity. Loss of bone strength may progress to a broken bone.

A bone density test can:

  • Detect low bone density before a fracture occurs
  • Confirm a diagnosis of osteoporosis
  • Determine your rate of bone density change through  serial studies
  • Monitor the effects of treatment

Osteoporosis risk factors:

  • Being female
  • A small, thin frame
  • Advancing age
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia
  • Use of certain medications (steroids, anticonvulsants, thyroxine)
  • Low testosterone levels in men
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Malabsorption problems
  • A diet low in calcium

The appointment generally takes between 20-40 minutes.  


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Pre Examination

Before your Examination

Please wear clothing without buckles, buttons or zips.

Please call us to make an appointment for your scan.

If you have a referral from your doctor please bring this with you.

You are able to self-refer for this test if you wish but we recommend you send a copy of your report to your doctor to enable it to be added to your medical file.

Your Examination

When you have your scan a skilled, qualified technician will ask you to lie on a special bed. You will hear a quiet machine noise and a scanning arm will move above you, but will not touch you. The technician will tell you when the scan is finished.

Post Examination

Your scan results will be interpreted by the radiologist and a report will be sent directly to your doctor who will discuss the results with you.