Bone Densitometry

Bone density scanning, also called dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) or bone densitometry, is an enhanced form of X-ray technology used to measure bone loss. DEXA is today’s established standard for measuring bone mineral density (BMD).

An X-ray (radiograph) is a non-invasive medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions. Imaging with X-rays involves exposing a part of the body to a small dose of ionising radiation to produce pictures of the inside of the body. DXA is most often performed on the lower spine and hips and is a reliable scan in the diagnosis of osteoporosis.

Source: RadiologyInfo

Is booking required?

Branches: Greenacres, Mangold Imaging Centre (MIC), Uitenhage
Please click here for the location of your nearest branch.

It is essential to have any repeat bone density scans at the same branch for comparative purposes.

What is Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is the end result of bone loss or the reduction of bone mineral density. It is a potentially crippling disease characterised by the susceptibility to fracture. It is directly related to diminishing levels of the female hormone estrogen. The estrogen level drops off from the age of 35 at a rate of 1% bone mass a year. Estrogen stimulates the growth of bone cells, called osteoblasts, which help build bone.

Who is at risk?

Today, doctors are better equipped to detect and treat bone loss in its earliest stages to prevent the disease or lessen its impact. Several drug therapies are presently available and have been shown to be clinically effective in slowing down or reversing the bone loss process. The diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis should begin with an objective, quantifiable measurement of the patient’s bone mass or bone density. Bone densitometry using DEXA (Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry)/ WCT (Quantitative Computerised Tomography), is a simple, safe, reliable, painless and cost-effective method to measure bone mass or bone density.

Uncontrollable Risk Factors

  • Being over the age of 50
  • Female
  • Menopause
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Low body weight/being small and thin
  • Broken bones or height loss

Controllable Risk Factors

  • Not getting enough calcium & vitamin D
  • Not eating enough fruits and vegetables
  • Getting too much protein, sodium and caffeine
  • Having an inactive lifestyle
  • Smoking
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Weight loss

How should I prepare for the procedure?

Unless otherwise instructed by one of our doctors, eat normally on the day of the examination. Wear loose, comfortable clothing. Casual attire without zippers, buttons, grommets or any metal is preferred. You should not have had a barium study, radioisotope injection, oral contrast or intravenous contrast material within seven days before your examination. Please inform the radiographer if you have had any hip or back operations.

The procedure


It comprises an X-ray tube that produces low energy radiation and an X-ray detector that detects the amount of radiation not absorbed by the bone.

Bone Density Scan

The most common examination sites are the hip, spine and sometimes the forearm. The evaluation also includes the measurement of height and weight.

Data Analysis

Bone Mineral Density (BMD) is calculated and compared to typical BMD values, matched for age & sex, to confirm or exclude osteoporosis.

The report

The report will include your bone density measurement and a comparison of your results against your previous results, which is also compared to an extensive database of normal and other patients of your age and sex.
It is very important to have a repeat bone density scan on the same machine for comparison. Suggested baseline bone density scan should be done at age 40.