DEXA Scan Specialist

William R. Martin, MD -  - Diagnostic Imaging

Upper Valley Interventional Radiology

William R. Martin, MD

Diagnostic Imaging & Diagnostic Radiologist located in McAllen, TX

A DEXA scan is the most widely used method for measuring the structural integrity of your bones. DEXA scans can find small changes in your bone mass while you have time to start treatment to prevent serious bone loss. William R. Martin, MD, and the team at Upper Valley Interventional Radiology offer DEXA scans in the comfort of their office in McAllen, Texas. Whether your doctor ordered a routine screening or you’re at risk for osteoporosis and you’d like to know your bones are healthy, you can schedule an appointment using the online booking form or by calling the office.

DEXA Scan Q & A

What is a DEXA scan?

Bone densitometry is a test to determine the density of your bones. The procedure is also called dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, which is shortened to DEXA. During a DEXA scan, a very low dose of radiation is used to measure bone loss. DEXA scans are typically performed to diagnose osteoporosis, but they can also assess your risk of developing fractures.

What causes osteoporosis?

Your bones reach their peak mass in your late 20s, then they stay strong by continuously replacing old bone with new bone. Around middle age, bone loss tends to outpace bone growth, a problem that affects both men and women and leads to osteoporosis.

Women have a significantly higher risk of osteoporosis, however. Women rapidly lose bone mass after menopause and well into their postmenopausal years. 

In addition to menopause, you’re at risk for osteoporosis if you:

  • Are tall and/or thin
  • Lead an inactive lifestyle
  • Consume a diet low in calcium
  • Have a family history of osteoporosis
  • Are diagnosed with an eating disorder
  • Use medications such as steroids
  • Are a man with low testosterone
  • Smoke cigarettes
  • Excessively use alcohol
  • Have thyroid, kidney, or liver disease

Osteoporosis doesn’t cause symptoms until you suddenly develop a fracture. In severe cases, your bones become weak enough to break during activities that wouldn’t typically hurt healthy bones.

How should I prepare for a DEXA scan?

If you use calcium supplements, you should stop taking them at least 24 hours before your scheduled scan. If possible, avoid wearing clothing with metal items like zippers. Otherwise, you don’t need to prepare for your scan, and you can eat normally on the day of the exam.

Patients who recently had a barium study, radioisotope injection, or took contrast material for an MRI or CT scan may need to wait 10-14 days before their DEXA scan. These substances interfere with DEXA results. It’s also important to tell your technician if there’s a chance you’re pregnant.

What should I expect during a DEXA scan?

During your scan, you stay clothed and lie on a comfortable, padded table. You need to stay as still as possible during the exam, but you can breathe normally.

The team at Upper Valley Interventional Radiology scans your spine and femur, the sites where fractures most often occur. If you’re too large for the DEXA table, they screen your forearm. You won’t feel a thing during the scan, and the entire test only takes a few minutes to finish.

If you need to schedule a screening or diagnostic DEXA scan, call Upper Valley Interventional Radiology or use the online booking feature.

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