Medical tests and imaging help your provider create a personalized treatment plan for you. A DEXA scan uses X-ray imaging to test your bone density. Your provider may recommend a DEXA scan to understand your risk for low bone mass (osteopenia), bone loss (osteoporosis) or bone fractures.

At Baptist Health, you can expect a DEXA scan experience that is:

  • High-quality. Our DEXA machines produce detailed images that providers rely on to form an accurate diagnosis. High-quality images lead to high-quality care.
  • Convenient. Choose from one of our many locations close to where you live.
  • Friendly. Our team can answer all your questions so you know what to expect. Board-certified radiologists and technologists guide you through the process and prioritize your comfort, safety and positive experience.

What is a DEXA scan?

Your provider may recommend a DEXA scan to measure the strength of your bones. DEXA stands for dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. It uses low levels of X-rays to create images of your skeleton.

A bone density scan can help you prevent, treat or monitor bone health conditions. For example, getting a DEXA scan can identify low bone mass early to prevent bone loss. If you’ve had a fractured bone in the past, a DEXA scan can provide insight into your risk for future fractures.

Why do people get a DEXA scan?

Providers often recommend bone density scans for women over 50 when the hormone changes during menopause affect their bones. Older men can also experience bone health issues. And some conditions affect the bone health of people of all ages.

Knowing your bone density can help you prevent or monitor the following conditions:

  • Bone fractures
  • Bone loss (osteoporosis)
  • Low bone mass (osteopenia)
  • Other conditions that affect bone health, such as hyperthyroidism

Most DEXA scans check the bones of the hip and lower spine, as they weaken first during osteoporosis. If testing for hyperthyroidism, your technologist may scan your forearm bones. Your healthcare provider may also check other bones in your body to get a more complete picture of your bone health.

What can I expect at my DEXA scan appointment?

When you set your DEXA scan appointment, the scheduling team will provide instructions, gather general information about you and answer any questions you may have. In general, you can expect the following experience.

  • Before you get a DEXA bone density scan, you can eat, drink and take most of your medications as usual. If you take calcium supplements or antacids, stop taking them 24 hours before the scan. Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. Because metal can interfere with the test, take off any metal items or jewelry and let your technologist know if you have any implants.

    Your imaging technologist will measure your weight and height, which are important factors in understanding your bone density. They’ll bring you to the imaging room, where you will both be during the scan. They will discuss your health history and answer any questions before you start.

  • Your technologist will ask you to sit or lie on an open table. Depending on the scan, they’ll instruct you to position your body a certain way. For example, you might raise your lower legs onto a block, turn a leg outward or set your arm on a block.

    Getting a DEXA scan is a quick and painless process that takes 10 to 20 minutes. The DEXA scanner arm will pass over your body without touching it as you stay still. This arm will emit low-dose X-rays to create detailed images that show your bone density. Your technologist will remain in the room with you throughout the process.

  • After your DEXA scan, you’ll leave with no interruption to your daily activities.

    You’ll get your results in 24 to 48 hours. Our board-certified radiologists will interpret your test results and send them to your physician. You can see them at the same time through The Baptist Health PineApp.

What are the risks or side effects of a DEXA scan?

Your Baptist Health team will do everything possible to ensure you have a comfortable and safe DEXA scan.

A DEXA scan uses X-rays with very low radiation exposure. Exposure to radiation carries a risk of causing cancer in the future, but clinical experts believe this risk is very small during a DEXA scan. Most patients do not experience any side effects from a bone density scan.

Tell your provider if you are pregnant or think you could be pregnant. Medical experts recommend avoiding any radiation, including X-rays, during pregnancy.

How do I get a DEXA scan?

If your provider believes a bone density will help your diagnosis, treatment or care, they will prescribe one. Once your provider gives you a prescription, you can call Baptist Health Imaging to schedule your appointment.

How much does a DEXA scan cost?

The cost of your DEXA scan will depend on your insurance. After your provider prescribes a DEXA scan, our Pre-registration and Authorization Department will confirm the price with you. Many insurance plans cover bone density scans for women 50 and older every two years.

If your insurance does not cover a DEXA scan, you can choose to self-pay. Our Central Pricing Office will work with you to arrange your payment schedule.

Schedule Your Bone Density Test Today.

We Have Diagnostic Imaging Locations From Palm Beach to Monroe County.

Baptist Health is here to support you through every stage of your health journey, beginning with getting your DEXA scan at any of our diagnostic imaging locations. Online appointment scheduling is available for Bone Density Testing. Select a convenient location on the map to schedule.

Frequently asked questions about DEXA Scans

  • A DEXA scan can take 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the body part and purpose of the scan.

  • Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes you can easily move in. Because metal interferes with the scanner, do not wear any jewelry or metal accessories.

  • You will get your bone density results in 24 to 48 hours. The fastest and easiest way to see your results is through the PineApp. Baptist Health’s app helps you easily manage your healthcare — including viewing DEXA scan results — from any mobile device.

  • You might wonder what a “normal” bone density result looks like. Older women and men will receive their bone density results as a T-score. This score compares your bone density to that of a healthy, young adult.

    • A T-score above -1 means your bones are healthy.
    • A T-score of -1 to -2.5 means you have low bone mass (osteopenia).
    • A T-score of -2.5 or lower means you have bone loss that could be osteoporosis.

    These results help you and your provider understand your risk for bone breaks. With each 1-point drop in your T-score, your risk of breaking a bone increases by 1.5 to 2 times. After you receive your bone density results, talk with your provider about what they mean for you. Together, you can come up with a plan to strengthen your bones and reduce your risk of breaks.

  • Yes, a DEXA scan uses very small amounts of X-ray radiation. However, the amount of radiation exposure is very low, and the benefits of the scan can positively impact your care.

  • No, the DEXA scanner is painless and minimally invasive. While you lie or sit on a table, the scanner arm will pass over your body without touching you.

Proven Quality

Proven Quality

Baptist Health DEXA scans produce clear, high-quality images your provider can use to diagnose and treat you accurately. We are accredited by the American College of Radiology, so our medical imaging staff are experienced and qualified.

Schedule Your Bone Density Scan.

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