What is a DEXA SCAN?

Testing your bone density — how strong your bones are — is the only way to know for sure if you have osteoporosis. One common test doctors use is called dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA or DEXA), or a bone scan or bone density scan.

Source: Webmd.com

The scan generally takes 10 to 20 minutes. It’s painless, and the amount of radiation you get from the X-rays the scan uses is low. Unlike some other types of tests, like MRIs or CT SCANS, you won’t have to lie inside a closed tunnel or ring. Instead, you’ll lie on an open X-ray table and try to stay still as the scanner passes over your body. When the test is over, you’ll be able to go home.

A DEXA scanner is a machine that produces two X-ray beams. One is high energy and the other is low energy. The machine measures the amount of X-rays that pass through the bone from each beam. This will vary depending on how thick the bone is. Based on the difference between the two beams, your doctor can measure your bone density.

For the results of your scan, you’ll get a T-score. It shows how much higher or lower your bone density is than that of a healthy 30-year-old, the age when bones are at their strongest. The lower your score, the weaker your bones are:

  • T-score of -1.0 or above = normal bone density
  • T-score between -1.0 and -2.5 = low bone density, or osteopenia
  • T-score of -2.5 or lower = osteoporosis

Sometimes doctors will give you another DXA scan result — a Z score. It compares your bone density to a normal score for a person of your same age and body size.

***If you have a commercial insurance provider (IE: BCBS, CIGNA, United etc…) this study may require pre-authorization by the ordering provider. This simply means the ordering provider must contact your insurance company and provide clinical data such as results from a previous office visit, image study or exam. Once this has been completed your insurance company will provide an authorization code that must be given to Midwest Advanced Radiology (MRAD) in order to proceed with your exam. Failure to obtain prior authorization may result in additional out of pocket costs.

If you have Medicare (excludes Medicare Advantage and Medicare Replacement) or are self-pay prior authorization is not needed.


Setting up an appointment has never been easier. You can simply call one of your locations, or follow the steps below to schedule your DEXA SCAN study.

We will call you the day before your appointment as a reminder of your upcoming DEXA SCAN study.