MultiCare Health System

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Procedures

Bone Densitometry

Where is bone densitometry (DXA) available?
MultiCare Medical Imaging offers bone densitometry, also called DXA or DEXA imaging, at the MultiCare Auburn Health CenterMultiCare Auburn Medical Center, MultiCare Covington Clinic and MultiCare Gig Harbor Medical Park.

What is bone densitometry (DXA)?
Bone densitometry is a type of imaging that measures your bone mineral density. Bones that are not very dense are usually brittle and weak and are more likely to break. A number of conditions cause bone loss, such as osteoporosis, genetics or treatments for chronic diseases. DXA is commonly used to diagnose osteoporosis. It is also used for tracking the effects of bone building treatment and assessing an individual’s risk for developing fractures.

Bone density testing is strongly recommended if you:

  • Are a post-menopausal woman
  • Have estrogen deficiency
  • Have a personal or maternal history of hip fracture
  • Smoke tobacco
  • Have an inactive lifestyle
  • Use alcohol excessively
  • Have low calcium intake
  • Are thin, small boned, weighing less than 125
  • Are a man with clinical conditions associated with bone loss
  • Use medications that are known to cause bone loss
  • Have long term steroid use
  • Have type 1 diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease
  • Have a family history of osteoporosis
  • Have a thyroid condition, such as hyperthyroidism
  • Have experienced a fracture after only mild trauma
  • Have had x-ray evidence of vertebral fracture or other signs of osteoporosis


What can I expect during my bone density test?
For the test, you will lie down on a padded examining table. The hips and lower spine are the most common bones examined. The best part is that the scanning is painless.

How should I prepare?
Please arrive to your exam 10 to 15 minutes early to fill out paperwork. DXA examinations do not require any special preparation. You may eat and drink normally.

Please avoid wearing clothing with metal buttons or zippers for your examination. A loose fitting outfit with an elastic waist is best. You will be asked to remove all metal from around the waist prior to your exam.

Please advise our staff at the time of scheduling if you have had any of the following studies, as they may affect the results of the DXA examination:

  • Recent barium studies
  • Nuclear Medicine studies
  • Studies involving IV or oral contrast

For your safety and the safety of your children, please make arrangements for someone to care for your children during your scheduled appointment time. If you are unable to find care for them, please call and reschedule your appointment.

Do not take calcium supplements 24 hours prior to the examination
Calcium can be found in multi-vitamins and antacids. It is important that you be cognizant of how much calcium, in supplemental form, you take. However, dairy products are acceptable.

How long will the test take?
The scan usually takes 15-20 minutes. 

Your study results
Results of your test are compared to a reference population based on your age, weight, height, sex and ethnic background. The test may be repeated to determine your rate of bone loss or the effect of treatment over time.

The results will be sent to your health care provider. Please contact your health care provider to review the results.

Facts about Osteoporosis

*Statistics provided by: National Osteoporosis Foundation/ World Health Organization

- The average primary care doctor sees 54 women a week over the age of fifty. On average, of these 54 women, 30 percent have osteoporosis.

- The average number of patients diagnosed with osteoporosis per week per primary care physician is only one.

- A Gallup Survey of Women ages 45 - 75 indicates that three out of four have never spoken to a doctor about osteoporosis.

- 28 million people have osteoporosis in this country and most don't know it.

- Osteoporosis leads to 1.5 million fractures each year. $18 billion dollars is spent on treating those fractures.

- Patients' risk of osteoporotic fracture is greater than their combined risk for heart attack, stroke, breast cancer, uterine cancer and ovarian cancer

- The risk of death from osteoporosis in women equals the risk of death from breast cancer.

- 50 percent of women over age fifty will have some type of osteoporotic fracture in their lifetime.

- 50 percent of the people suffering an osteoporotic hip fracture won't walk again.

- 20 percent of the people suffering a hip fracture die within one year.

- Almost half of women 65 and older suffering an osteoporotic fracture of the hip die within the first year.

- 250 million women worldwide have osteoporosis now.

- By the year 2020, the number of women affected is projected to double.

- Bone mineral density (BMD) testing is the only practical way to detect low bone mass.