OSF St. Mary Medical Center

Galesburg, Illinois

Bone Density Screening

Bone Densitometry (also known as DEXA - Dual Energy X-Ray Absorption) is an exam that measures the actual denseness of bones. Bones that become less dense are at a higher risk for breaking.

Having a bone density exam will let your doctor know if you have an increased risk of bone breaks (fractures).

What to Expect

Bone density screening bedBone Density Screening Bed A bone densitometry exam is performed with a specialized X-ray united located in the mammography department at the outpatient imaging department.

The technologist will review your pertinent medical history. Most patients have their hip & lower back measured (there is specific criteria that is determined patient to patient). These two regions give the best information about how strong your bones are.

The technologist will position you on the table for a very accurate exam. A bone densitometry exam is very fast & painless. You will be done in 10-15 minutes.

Preparing for Your Bone Density Screening

Because bone densitometry is a study that measures bone content, there are a few procedures and medications that a patient can not have PRIOR to having a bone densitometry exam.

A patient can not have had any barium products (x-ray GI studies or CT studies with barium) within the last seven days before a bone densitometry exam.

A patient can not have a nuclear medicine procedure within the last seven days before a bone densitometry exam.

A patient can not take any calcium or Tums® products the day of a bone densitometry exam.  There are no other preparations needed for a bone densitometry exam.

Other Information

Most insurances will cover a bone density exam if the clinician has a clinical concern that the patient has osteoporosis or monitoring osteoporosis if medications have been started.

Additionally, most insurances will not cover a bone densitometry exam more frequent then every two years. For specific information, contact your insurance company.