Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) is a special kind of X-ray that can see inside the bone better than the X-rays used to look for a broken bone.
The DXA test is typically used to look at the density of the bones in your hips and lower spine. These are the bones that are most likely to break if you have osteoporosis, and are also the bones that can cause more pain and disability if they do break.
DXA testing uses a very low dose of radiation to give your doctor an early look at your bone health. If your bone density is lower than it should be, your doctor can prescribe medications or diet changes to improve your bone health and help prevent future broken bones.
Weak bones may not sound like a significant concern. But as you get older, weak bones can result in serious illness or even death.
The National Osteoporosis Foundation reports that 20 percent of seniors who break a hip die within a year due to complications from the broken bone or from the surgery to fix it. A broken hip may also lead to an extended stay in a long-term nursing home.
Although women are at higher risk for osteoporosis, bone density testing is important for men and women. If you are over age 50, are in menopause, or have other known risk factors, talk to your health care provider about whether it might be the right time for a bone density test.
Reviewed May 18, 2016
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith
1) Bone Density Exam/Testing. National Osteoporosis Foundation. Web. May 17, 2016.
2) Why Osteoporosis is More Common in Women. Everyday Health. Madeline Vann, MPH. Web. May 17, 2016.
3) What is Ostoeporosis and What Causes It? National Osteoporosis Foundation. Web. May 17, 2016.