DEXA Bone Density Scan

Earlier detection of bone loss through preventive screenings

One of the most tragic aspects of osteoporosis is that all too often it is a “silent disease.” Bone loss, also called osteopenia, can go undetected for years until a patient finds out that the loss has progressed to the level of osteoporosis—a potentially debilitating disease. Over 40 million Americans either have osteoporosis or are at high risk. Women are at much higher risk than men due to physiological changes that occur as women age.

Bone loss can be treated much more effectively if detected early. With the help of a fast, simple, painless X-ray exam called bone densitometry (also known as a DEXA scan),Carolina Radiology physicians can identify patients who are experiencing bone loss that may put them at risk. This means that, for many patients, bone loss can be found at an earlier stage so that treatment can begin before the full onset of osteoporosis.

An initial DEXA screening is recommended for all women at age 65. DEXA scans are recommended as a screening for:

  • Women under 65 who are postmenopausal and have multiple risk factors for osteoporosis
  • Women in the initial stages of menopause, as a test to help evaluate the advisability of hormone-replacement therapy
  • Patients (male or female) at risk due to long-term use of medications that may cause bone loss as a side effect, or who have been diagnosed with an overactive parathyroid gland

Patients should discuss risk factors with their primary care physicians or gynecologists to assess the advisability of an osteoporosis screening. After the initial screening—and commencement of treatment, when needed—physicians can assess follow-up examination needs and intervals.