Learn more about
Bone Densitometry, plus
related tests, conditions
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For more information or to
schedule a DXA scan,
contact Women's Imaging
How's your density? How dense you are is important when it comes to your bones. If your bones aren't thick enough, you could be at risk for osteoporosis. Now, with the aid of Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry (DXA) machine, located at Mon General's Women's Imaging Center, osteoporosis can be detected while still asymptomatic.
Osteoporosis, which affects over 20 million American women, is a disease characterized by the exaggerated loss of bone mass and by poor bone quality. It causes bones, especially in the spine, wrists, and hips, to become brittle and fragile and susceptible to fracture.
The DXA measures the bone mineral density of your bones. As osteoporosis sets in, the bones become weaker and brittle.
The DXA scans both the vertebrae in the spine and the hip bone. Results are given as a comparison with the bone density of an average young adult and an average person of the same age, gender, race, weight, and height.
Bones are at their most dense in early adulthood. Before early adulthood, bones are still growing and afterwards they begin deteriorating. By using the scan, doctors check to see how far form the optimal bone density the scan is. That way, doctors can best judge how aggressively to treat the bone mineral loss.
For optimal effectiveness, women treated for osteoporosis should be scanned at least every year. This way the scan can be compared to the previous year's scan to see if medications are working and to gauge any further bone mineral loss.
Yearly testing is recommended for those who fall into any of the high risk categories. High risk factors include a family history of osteoporosis, being postmenopausal, entering menopause before age 45, being of Caucasian or Asian descent, being thin or having a small build, using medications such as steroids (commonly used to treat asthma and arthritis) or thyroid hormones. Smokers, people who have consumed excessive amounts of alcohol, and those who are calcium deficient or don't exercise regularly are also at higher risk. Until recently, women could only fight the effects of osteoporosis with hormone and calcium supplements and exercise.
The FDA (Federal Drug Administration) has approved medication that ideally will counteract the bone mass loss in women. Hopefully, this will at least help to halt the destructive effects of fractures secondary to osteoporosis.
Combine the yearly scans with new types of medication therapy and there is finally a valuable weapon in the war against osteoporosis.
Those interested in receiving a scan must first check with their family practitioner. All X-ray type procedures, including DXA, require a doctor's order. Secondly, they should check with their insurance carrier to see if the test is covered. Many insurance companies are recognizing the advantages of detecting and treating osteoporosis in its early stages.
For more information or to schedule a DXA scan, contact the center at (304) 598-1280.