Bone Densitometry

Bone densitometry, also called dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA), is a low-dose, non-invasive x-ray that is used to measure bone mineral density (BMD) and is most often used to diagnose osteoporosis and detect possible bone loss.

We Accept All Requisitions from Any Clinic

Purpose of a Bone Densitometry exam

A BMD test can track the effectiveness of treatment for osteoporosis and assesses an individual’s risk for developing fractures. The risk of fracture is affected by age, body weight, history of prior fracture, family history of osteoporotic fractures and lifestyle issues such as cigarette smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. The results of the scan are graphed and compared to a population at peak bone mass (young normal), as well a population that is matched to your age and gender.

What to Expect During Your Exam

  • After checking in and completing a questionnaire, you will be shown to a change room and asked to remove some or all of your clothing
  • You may also be asked to remove jewelry, dentures, eye glasses and any metal objects or clothing that might interfere with the exam
  • Please inform the technologist if there is any possibility that you are pregnant
  • Depending on the purpose of the bone densitometry scan, and where the scan is taken (lower spine, hip or wrist), you may be required to lie still on an imaging table for up to 15 minutes while the x-ray scanner passes slowly over you several times
  • Once the exam is complete, you are free to leave and continue normally with your day
  • Your results will be sent directly from our radiologist to your referring physician
  • Bone densitometry scans are sometimes available on a walk-in basis, although it is preferable that you book an appointment
  • Please note that there is a 325 lb weight restriction on this machine

How to Prepare for Your Exam

  • Please be sure to arrive at least 15 minutes before your appointment to provide enough time to change and prepare for your examination.
  • Please DO NOT take any supplements (i.e. vitamins, minerals, calcium and/or iron supplements) for 2 days prior to and including the day of your exam.
  • You may take them AFTER your exam.
  • Please ensure to remove any jewelry, metal or glass prior to the exam.
  • If you have had a barium study, CT or nuclear scan recently, please let us know at the time of booking your appointment.
  • Please note: if there is a chance that you are pregnant, the exam may not be possible.

How to Book Your Exam

  • Exams require a requisition form from your family physician.
  • You can book by phone by calling us during our regular business hours.
    West Edmonton: 780-705-9982
    Chappelle Crossing: 780-540-9066
    Spruce Grove: 587-461-2221
  • You can also conveniently book online.

Find a Family Physician in your area

  • If you do not have a family physician or need assistance with a requisition form or referral letter can help you find a family doctor accepting patients in your area.

About Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a condition that causes bones to become thin and porous, decreasing bone strength and leading to increased risk of fracture. In Canada, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men will suffer from an osteoporotic fracture during their lifetime. Fractures from osteoporosis are more common than heart attack, stroke and breast cancer combined. For this reason, Osteoporosis Canada recommends that women and men age 65 or older have routine tests to measure their bone mineral density (thickness). Postmenopausal women and men 50 – 64 with risk factors for osteoporosis should also have a BMD test. Risk factors include (but are not limited to):

  • High alcohol intake
  • Currently smoking
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Certain high risk medications
  • Vertebral fracture or fragility fracture after age 40
  • Low body weight (under 60kg) or more than 10% weight loss since age 25

If any of these risk factors apply to you, speak with your physician about getting a requisition for a bone densitometry scan.

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