Densitometry (DEXA or dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) is a scan that exposes body parts to X-rays to estimate bone mineral content and calculate mineral density, ie. to estimate bone strength.
It is most commonly used to diagnose osteoporosis, evaluate the effects of treating osteoporosis, and other conditions that cause bone loss, and can also evaluate an individual’s risk for fracture development. Densitometry is recommended to::
- postmenopausal women (who do not take estrogen),
- patients taking drugs known to cause bone density loss, patients with type 1 diabetes problems, patients with organ diseases (liver disease, kidney disease or family history of osteoporosis),
- patients who have thyroid problems (hyperthyroidism),
- patients with hyperparathyroidism,
- with fractures resulting from mild trauma,
- with a spinal fracture or other signs of osteoporosis
- Elderly patients may be advised to add DEXA especially if they have lost more than one centimeter in height or have unclear back pain.