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What Is DEXA Scan?
A DEXA (Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry) scan is the most commonly used test for measuring bone mineral density (BMD), and it is one of the most accurate ways to diagnose osteoporosis and osteopenia. DEXA exams estimate the amount of bone mineral content in specific areas of your body by measuring the amount of X-rays that are absorbed by the bones. Two X-ray energies allow the radiologist to tell the difference between bone and soft tissue, giving a very accurate estimation of bone density. Often confused with a nuclear medicine bone scan, a DEXA scan is faster, has a negligible radiation dose and does not require a radionuclide injection.
DEXA scans are used to measure bone mineral density because they are more accurate than regular X-rays. A person would need to lose 20-30% of their bone density before it would show on an X-ray. DEXA measurements are accurate and reproducible, allowing your physician to confidently determine if treatment is necessary. DEXA scans also require much less radiation exposure than a CAT scan and are less costly.