X-ray technology can reveal a plethora of information about the health of your bones. X-rays are most known for their ability to confirm a broken bone, but what if X-rays can be used to help detect weakened bones before they ever break? With a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan, that’s possible. A DEXA bone scan is a diagnostic imaging test that uses low levels of X-ray technology to measure the mineral content of your bones.
Your bones are made of collagen and calcium phosphate. Calcium phosphate is what makes your bones strong, and if your bones don’t have enough it, your bones become brittle and prone to break. That’s where the DEXA bone scan comes into the picture. It is often used to assess the mineral content in bones to confirm osteoporosis, a medical condition in which your bones become weak and brittle.
Dr. Ebrahim Delpassand proudly offers DEXA bone scans here at Excel Diagnostics & Nuclear Oncology Center. If you’re concerned about your bone density, we encourage you to visit our Houston, Texas, office, now designated as a Radiopharmaceutical Therapy Center of Excellence.
In the meantime, let’s take a look at what the scan can do and who can benefit from it.
What is a DEXA bone scan?
DEXA bone scans are diagnostic scans, which means that while they don’t cure bone loss, they can help diagnose (or rule out) specific medical conditions. As with any X-ray, the DEXA bone scan produces images. In this case, the imaging reveals the mineral content of your bones. By measuring calcium and phosphorus in your bones, we can assess your risk for osteoporosis-related fractures.
The test is noninvasive and not painful. Simply lay back on the X-ray table while the arm of the machine passes over you.
Who can benefit from a DEXA bone scan?
Normally, your bones regenerate every 10 years, but if you have osteoporosis (a condition that translates to “porous bones”), your body doesn’t create new bone tissue. This leads to an imbalance where you break down more bone tissue than you create, and that increases your risk for fractures. Because DEXA bone scans can assess the mineral content in your bones, a routine DEXA scan can help pinpoint potential bone density issues before you break a bone from osteoporosis.
You might benefit from a DEXA bone scan if:
You have underlying health conditions that affect your bones
There are many conditions that increase your risk for developing osteoporosis. This includes:
- Celiac disease
- Kidney disease
- Thyroid disorder
- Multiple myeloma
- Rheumatoid arthritis
If you have cancer, you may also benefit from a DEXA scan. Certain cancer-fighting drugs can weaken your bones.
You have a small frame
Both men and women who have a small frame have an increased risk of developing osteoporosis. That’s because they have less bone mass to draw from as they age.
You don’t consume enough calcium
Your daily calcium requirements vary depending on your age and sex. For example, men under the age of 71 need 1,000 mg of calcium per day, but this jumps to 1200 mg for men aged 72 and up. Likewise, women between the age of 17 and 50 need 1,000 mg, and the amount increases to 1,200 mg per day for women over the age of 51. If you don’t consume enough calcium in your diet, you’re at risk of having low bone density.
You can find calcium in fortified products, dairy products, dark, leafy greens, and canned fish (with bones). Vegans and those with lactose intolerance may struggle to get enough calcium. If you’re advised to take a calcium supplement, stay diligent with your supplements to ensure your body gets enough calcium.
What your DEXA bone scan can tell you
A DEXA bone scan isn’t a treatment for osteoporosis, but it can point you toward the right treatment. If your bone scan reveals that you have low bone density, you can get started with the right treatments to fortify your bone mass and reduce your risk of fractures. Potential treatments for osteoporosis include:
- Medication, including bone-building medications, hormone-related therapy, and bisphosphonates
- Calcium supplements
- Weight-bearing exercise
If you have concerns about potential bone loss, call our Houston, Texas, office at 713-781-6200 to learn more about the DEXA bone scan. You can also use our online form to schedule an appointment.