Ideally, a risk factor questionnaire is given to you to complete before having the scan. This means that if you have osteopenia and/or Osteoporosis, the questionnaire will help your doctor to understand why you developed osteopenia and/or Osteoporosis.
It is essential that all cause/s are found and addressed so that the person’s bone health can be improved. Certain blood tests are also recommended to assist in finding the causes of any bone loss.
A DXA scan is like having an X-ray. It is completely painless. You lie on your back for approximately 10-15 minutes while a bar moves back and forth above you. It is not at all claustrophobic.
A DXA scan measures a person’s bone mineral density which basically means the strength of the person’s bone.
The scan measures the bone density in your lower spine: the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Lumber vertebrae which are the bones in your lower back. It also measures two areas of the hip: the femoral neck and the greater Trochanter. The IOS recommends that both hips be scanned.
An LVA (Lateral Vertebral Assessment) is recommended when having the DXA scan if someone displays or complains of one or more of the following symptoms: back pain; shoulders may have become rounded; head protruding forward from their body; developed a hump on their back; loss of height.
An LVA needs to be requested on the referral letter. If this is not available, a lateral thoracic X-ray should be done to rule out fractures in the mid and upper back.
In most facilities, DXA results are sent back to your GP or the referring consultant who should explain your results to you.
We recommend re-scanning at a maximum of every two years (preferably on the same machine). It is recommended that a patient’s response to treatment be monitored.
When you are re-scanned, your new results should be compared to your old results, to ensure that you have improved. Your results should not decline, if this happens, this should be investigated.