Dexa Scan

DEXA scan is an acronym for Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry, and it is an imaging test used to determine composition of lean muscle, fat, and bone density through the body. DEXA scan is used in two different ways. It is most commonly known as a screening examination for bone mineral density to identify those that are at risk for brittle bones caused by osteoporosis or osteopenia. Other than typical bone mineral screening, it is also used to determine the amount of body fat, lean muscle mass, and their locations throughout the body. 

How does a DEXA Scan work?

DEXA scan is a highly accurate test and is considered the gold standard, which means it is the most precise testing available. It works by using two different energy and low dose x-ray beams through the body tissues. A detector measures the amount of radiation that moves through the body to determine how much lean mass, fat, and bone density is present in the body.  

What is DEXA scan used for?

  • Weight Loss:  An initial scan will determine how much body fat and lean muscle mass are present, to better target a diet and exercise program to help reduce overall body fat while increasing lean muscle mass. Routine scans through your weight loss journey will track your results and determine if your current exercise and diet regimen are providing the results you desire.  
  • Athletes:  Different types of athletes may benefit from use of DEXA scan to determine their overall lean muscle mass, body fat, and muscle imbalances. If there are muscle imbalances, this can allow the athlete to target exercises to fix the imbalance. Athletes that rely on bulking and cutting can use DEXA scan to determine how much body fat and muscle mass they are losing or gaining during cutting or bulking season to better target when they should perform either a cut or a bulk. 
  • General Health: Muscle mass and bone density slowly decline over time. Routine DEXA scans can allow you to track changes over time and try to prevent the progression of these changes with specific diet and exercise regimen. 
  • Bone density:  Bone density decreases over time with women much more likely to develop osteoporosis than men. Typically, all women over age 65 are screened every couple of years for osteopenia or osteoporosis. In addition to this age group, there are several other groups of people that should be screened routinely including:
    • Any post menopausal women < 45 years old, > 67” tall, < 125 lbs, < 65 years old with risk factors for osteoporosis, and not on hormone replacement therapy. 
    • Anyone with fracture > 50 years old
    • Anyone with family or personal history of osteoporosis, smoking, and/or hip fractures
    • Anyone with unexplained back pain
    • Anyone with height loss > 1”
    • Anyone who has taken medications that can lead to bone loss, such as steroids and certain seizure medications
    • Anyone with thyroid or parathyroid disorders 
    • Anyone with Diabetes Type I or Kidney disease
    • Anyone with a history of heavy alcohol use
    • Anyone with signs on x-rays for brittle bones or vertebral fracture
    • Anyone with a fracture with minor trauma

Who is a candidate for DEXA Scan?

DEXA scan can be used in any patient that is interested in their overall body composition or concerned about their bone density. This can include athletes, body builders, and those interested in weight loss and improving their overall body composition. Bone density testing is typically performed on women over the age of 65 on a routine basis, often every 2 years, as a screening test for osteoporosis. Bone density is still performed on younger individuals and men if there is concern for brittle bones from use of certain medications, family history, or recurrent fractures. 

When should I get a DEXA Scan?

Are you a fitness athlete or bodybuilder? Are you embarking on a weight loss journey? Are you wanting to improve your overall physical health? Are you concerned about your bone density? Do you have a family history of osteoporosis or osteopenia? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you would be a candidate to have a DEXA scan.

What should I expect on the day of the scan?

DEXA Scan is a non-invasive treatment and the machine allows you to lay flat for the testing. If the scan is performed for bone mineral density, this focuses on the hip and lower back and therefore you will need to lay on a foam block to better target these areas.  The scan is short, taking only about 7-10 minutes for body composition results and about 10-20 minutes for bone density results. It is important to avoid any calcium supplements 24 hours before testing and to wear clothing without any zippers, hooks, or metal pieces. You may either wear your own clothing, or be asked to wear a medical gown for the procedure.

Is there a recovery process?

There is no recovery for this type of testing and you may continue with your normal schedule and activities.

What type of results should I expect?

The results that you will receive are based upon if you are having a DEXA Scan for bone mineral density testing or body composition. 

  • Results for body composition will show:
    • Total body bone mineral density, bone mass, fat mass, lean mass, and body fat percentage
    • Truncal muscle and fat mass
    • Central abdominal fat
    • Muscle and fat mass in both arms and both legs
  • Results for bone mineral density will show:
    • T-score: This is a number assigned based on you bone mineral density as compared to those in their prime time of life of the same sex. The results are given in a range with -1 to 0 being normal, -2.5 to -1 being osteopenia (low bone density), and below -2.5 being osteoporosis. 
    • Z-score:  This is a number that compares your bone density with other people in your age group, sex, and body size. If it is highly abnormal, it can indicate that other testing is necessary.  

Why should Miami Skin Spa perform a DEXA Scan for me?

Miami Skin Spa is dedicated to improving quality of life through medical advancements, testing, and procedures. They are adept at performing DEXA Scans and delivering results that will help you to take the next step to improve your overall body composition or bone density to improve your quality of life. 

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