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Bone density exam (DXA)

Millions of Americans have osteoporosis, a condition that makes bones weak and more likely to break. Bone density and the risk for osteoporosis in the hips, spine and other bones can be measured using a dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) machine.

With the results of a DXA exam, physicians can make recommendations that will help patients strengthen weak bones and prevent or slow down osteoporosis. Medications, healthy diet and weight-bearing exercise can help prevent further bone loss or strengthen already weak bones.

What you should know about bone density exams

  • A DXA exam is painless, noninvasive and usually takes less than 15 minutes.
  • The following groups of people should have bone density exams:
    • Women over age 65
    • Men over age 70
    • Anyone who has broken a bone over age 50
    • Women with risk factors for osteoporosis who are of menopausal age or who are postmenopausal but under 65
    • Men age 50-69 with risk factors for osteoporosis 
  • Bone density exams are also recommended for people with breaks or bone loss in their spines, height loss of more than a half-inch within one year, or total height loss of 1.5 inches or more from original height.

Treatments with a DXA

Our physicians use bone density (DXA) exams for:

  • Bone density screening
  • Diagnosing osteoporosis and tracking its progression

Specialties and institutes

Connect with other specialties at Geisinger to learn more about these treatments.

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