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Bone Densitometry

What you should know

Bone densitometry is a scan (test) that measures bone density. A loss of density may increase your risk for osteoporosis. Bone densitometry is also called a dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scan. DXA scans use x-rays to show if your bones have lost minerals, such as calcium, causing them to become weak. DXA scans are usually done on your hip, spine, or forearm. A DXA scan can also be done of your entire body.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

Risks

The scan may not show bone loss, and you may not get needed treatment. The scan may show abnormal bone density when you have had no bone loss. If this occurs, you may get treatment you do not need. If you do not have the DXA scan, you may have bone loss that is not found. This may increase your risk of breaking a bone.

Getting Ready

Before your procedure:

  • Write down the correct date, time, and location of your procedure.

  • Ask your caregiver if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.

  • Bring your medicine bottles or a list of your medicines when you see your caregiver. Tell your caregiver if you are allergic to any medicine. Tell your caregiver if you use any herbs, food supplements, or over-the-counter medicine.

  • Tell your caregiver if you think you might be pregnant.

The day of your procedure:

  • Ask your caregiver before taking any medicine on the day of your procedure. These medicines include insulin, diabetic pills, high blood pressure pills, or heart pills. Bring a list of all the medicines you take, or your pill bottles, with you to the hospital.

  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives caregivers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.

  • You may be told not to take calcium supplements the day of your DXA scan.

  • Remove any metal that is near the body area being scanned. This includes jewelry, clothing with zippers, coins, body piercings, or an underwire bra.

Treatment

What will happen:

You will lie on the DXA scan table. The scanner will pass over the area and take pictures. Keep still during your scan so the pictures of your bones are clear. The DXA scan lasts between 10 and 30 minutes, depending on the area being scanned.

Contact a caregiver if

  • You cannot make it to your DXA scan on time.

Seek Care Immediately if

  • You fall and think you may have broken a bone.

  • Your condition or symptoms suddenly get worse.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Bone Densitometry (Precare)

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