In the spirit of the New Year, you may want to consider asking your doctor about getting a DXA scan.

A DXA scan (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) is a special type of x-ray used to measure how strong bones are.[1] It is also called a DEXA scan or a bone density scan. It’s commonly used to assess the risk of osteoporosis. It involves a simple, quick and painless procedure that measures bone density at the spine and hip bones.[2],[3]

Why should you consider getting it?

We gradually begin losing bone mass when we reach the age of 40. The loss of bone mass and strength can lead to osteoporosis – a disease in which bones become fragile, brittle and more likely to break.[4] Everyone will lose bone mass with age but this can be slowed through early diagnosis of osteoporosis, positive lifestyle changes and when appropriate, medical treatment.[5]

What should I expect?

A DXA scan is usually carried out by a radiographer. There are no special preparations needed before the scan. You’ll just need to lie flat on your back and keep still so that the images will turn out well.

What do the results mean?

The DXA scan compares your bone density with the average bone density expected for a healthy adult of the same age, gender and ethnicity. The difference between your bone density and the average bone density is calculated as a standard deviation (SD) score, also known as your Z-score. If your Z-score is below -2, it means that your bone density is lower than it should be for your age.

Another way of assessing whether your bone density is high or low, is to compare it with the bone density of an average young healthy adult. This comparison gives you a T-score. This score simply indicates how different your score is from an average young healthy adult (see Diagram 1). If your T-score is below -2.5, it means that you have osteoporosis.

[2] International Osteoporosis Foundation. Diagnosing Osteoporosis Available at: https://www.iofbonehealth.org/diagnosing-osteoporosis (Last accessed November 2017)

[3] National Health Service. The DEXA (DXA) scan. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dexa-scan/what-happens/ (Last accessed November 2017)

[4] International Osteoporosis Foundation. What Is Osteoporosis? 2015. Available at: http://www.iofbonehealth.org/what-is-osteoporosis (Last accessed November 2017)

[5] International Osteoporosis Foundation. Facts and Statistics. Available at: https://www.iofbonehealth.org/facts-statistics (Last accessed November 2017)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visual reference only and will be recrafted in the artwork.

Speak to your doctor and discuss the possibility of getting a DXA scan. Make your bone health a priority so you can preserve and enjoy your independence throughout the year!