Bone Density Exam (DEXA) | Torrance Memorial | South Bay

Bone Density Exam

Screening for osteoporosis involves an x-ray device - known technically as a DEXA scan - to examine bone density. For this painless procedure, patients lie clothed on an examination table while the device scans for bone mass. The procedure takes only a few minutes to determine how porous the bones are. 

The good news is that your physician can help you treat osteoporosis so that a 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, 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.


How Does My Physician Know That I Have Osteoporosis?

One of the best ways for a physician to know whether a patient has osteoporosis is through a bone mineral density (BMD) exam. BMD is measured by a quick, easy procedure known as a DEXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) evaluation. The DEXA evaluation is one of the most recommended ways for a physician to measure bone density because it gives precise measurements at clinically relevant skeletal sites (i.e. those with major clinical consequences when a fracture occurs.) The exam is easy, painless, and only takes about 20 minutes. While there are a variety of technologies to measure BMD, DEXA of the hip, spine and forearm is the only method for diagnosis of osteoporosis, prediction of fracture risk and monitoring changes in BMD over time. This statement is supported by extensive clinical research. The World Health Organization defines osteoporosis using DEXA, and all medication research trials use this technology. Accuracy and precision are excellent while radiation exposure is very low.


Is The DEXA Exam Safe?

The DEXA 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.


Cost

We participate with most insurance carriers in the area. Patients are responsible for any deductibles, co-payments or uncovered services. For qualified individuals, Medicare routinely covers DEXA exams every two year. Medicare allows for a follow-up DEXA exam sooner than every two years under certain circumstances. However, there are insurances plans that may not cover the DEXA exam. Our Diagnostic Scheduling Desk will contact your plan before making an exam appointment and advise you if it is not covered and what the patient financial responsibility would be for the exam.


How Do I Schedule a Bone Density Exam

Please make an appointment with your physician to discuss whether a bone density exam is medically indicated for you. At the office appointment, the doctor will evaluate your medical history and other pertinent indicators of possible osteoporosis and make a medical determination if a bone density study is appropriate in your case.

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