Dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DXA, DEXA)

Mount Sinai’s Radiology practice is recognized as a leader in the diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis. We balance the latest technology in bone density measurement with a personal, caring approach to ensure that you receive bone care with the attention and respect you deserve.

DEXA for Diagnosing Osteoporosis

One of the best ways for a physician to know whether a patient has osteoporosis is through a bone mineral density (BMD) exam. The most popular way to measure BMD is through a quick, easy test, known as a DXA (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) evaluation.

The DXA evaluation is one of the most recommended ways for a physician to measure bone density. The exam is easy and painless, and only takes about 20 minutes. The DXA evaluation measures bone density at various places in the body, such as the spine and hip, and does not require special preparation, medications, or injections.

Is the DXA Exam Safe?

The DXA exam uses a very weak form of X-ray (a small fraction of the radiation of a standard chest X-ray) to rapidly scan your bones. A computer then converts this information to numbers indicating your bone density. This exam takes only a few minutes and involves no shots, needles, enemas, or medicine.1

What Should I Wear?

A DXA exam does not require you to remove any of your clothes. Wear comfortable clothing like sweatpants and a T-shirt, but nothing with metal, such as zippers, snaps, jewelry, buttons, or buckles.

How likely is it That I Will Get Osteoporosis?

While many patients can be at risk for osteoporosis, certain people are more likely to develop the disease.  The following factors increase your risk:

  • Women, especially past menopause
  • Women with early menopause (before age 45)
  • Caucasian or Asian
  • Small, thin frame
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Taking certain medication such as steroids (like prednisone), thyroid hormones, anti-seizure medication, antacids that contain aluminum, heparin, and certain cancer-treatment medications
  • Smoker and/or heavy drinker
  • Inactive lifestyle
  • Diet low in calcium

What if I have Osteoporosis?

The good news is that your physician can help you treat osteoporosis so that a potential future fracture is less likely to affect your life. You can change dietary and lifestyle behaviors to help improve your bone health, including taking calcium and vitamin D and exercising. Your physician can discuss these options with you. In addition, several prescription medications are now available that can help prevent and treat osteoporosis and related fractures. Your physician can use the results of your bone density evaluation to help develop a treatment plan that best meets your needs.


1 International Society for Clinical Densitometry