Please arrive 15 minutes early.
If you need to reschedule or cancel your appointment, please call the Western Wisconsin Health Imaging Department at 715-684-1395.
We will call you the day before your scheduled procedure to confirm your appointment. If your procedure is on a Monday, we will call you the Friday before.
Enter through the Western Wisconsin Health main entrance and report to the Imaging Department 15 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment. After registering, you will be asked to wait in the waiting room until all of your paperwork is done. A technologist will then take you to the imaging area.
BEFORE THE EXAM
Wear a comfortable two-piece outfit. You must not wear any metal buttons, buckles, or zippers, as these materials may interfere with your results.
Let the technologist know!
For the success of the exam and for your safety tell the technologist if you:
- Are pregnant or think you may be.
- Have any metal in the part of your body being imaged, such as spinal fusion rods or a hip replacement.
- Have had a recent nuclear medicine scan or barium enema.
- Have a severely curved spine, have had spinal surgery, or can’t lie on your back.
DURING THE EXAM
When you are ready for the exam you will lie on your back and side on the exam table. An overhead “arm” will travel about your body and take readings of your bone density. It is very important that you lie still while the images are being taken so that the pictures are clear.
BONE DENSITOMETRY (DEXA)
Bone Densitometry has become the gold standard for measuring the density of your bones. Sometimes referred to as a DEXA scan (dual energy x-ray absorptiometry), bone densitometry is the test for evaluation of osteoporosis. The results of your exam are compared to others whose age, sex, and ethnic background are similar to yours. The measurement of bone minerals is very closely related to bone strength and your potential for bone fractures. As women age, along with many other health issues, their risk factors for osteoporosis increase.
The following is a list of the most common risk factors:
- Postmenopausal (no longer having periods)
- Early menopause (before age 45)
- Surgical menopause (removal of uterus and / or ovaries)
- Previous fracture
- Family history of osteoporosis
- Certain medications (including steroids and thyroid hormones)
- Caucasian / Asian descent
- Thin or small build
- Eating disorders
- Alcohol abuse
- Inactive lifestyle
- Inadequate calcium intake
Before discussing the actual Bone Densitometry procedure, you should know some facts regarding bone health. Osteoporosis is the most common type of bone disease. Osteoporosis occurs when the body fails to form enough new bone, or when too much existing bone is reabsorbed by the body. It is a condition
characterized by progressive loss of bone density and strength resulting in an increased vulnerability to fractures.
Osteoporosis is most commonly associated with menopause because lower estrogen levels increase the rate of bone reabsorption. When the balance is affected by decreased estrogen levels, the body
begins to increase bone removal. Though menopause is often considered the most common cause of osteoporosis, there are also other caused listed in the previous bullets.
Calcium and phosphate are two minerals that are essential for normal bone formation. Throughout youth, you body uses these minerals to produce bones. If calcium intake is not sufficient, or if the body does not absorb enough calcium from your diet, bone production suffers and the bone thins.
As people age, calcium and phosphate may be reabsorbed back into the body from the bones, which makes the bones weaker. Inadequate calcium and phosphate intake and reabsorption can cause fragile, brittle bones that are subject to fractures. The loss of bone density usually occurs gradually over a period of three years. Often, a person will actually suffer a fracture before they are aware that they have osteoporosis. By the time this occurs, the disease is in more advanced stages.
The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends that you have a bone density test if:
- You are a woman age 65 or older
- You are a man age 70 or older
- You break a bone after age 50
- You are a woman of menopausal age with risk factors
- You are a postmenopausal woman under age 65 with risk factors
- You are a man age 50-69 with risk factors
A bone density test may also be necessary if you have any of the following:
- An x-ray of your spine showing a break or bone loss in your spine
- Back pain with possible break in your spine
- Height loss of 1/2 inch or more within one year
- Total height loss of 1-1/2 inches from your original height
WHAT IS A BONE DENSITOMETRY EXAM?
Bone Densitometry is a low-dose x-ray that checks for signs of mineral loss and bone thinning. The area x-rayed is usually the hip and spine. A bone density exam delivers approximately one-quarter to one-tenth the radiation that occurs during an ordinary chest x-ray. It is a simple, painless, and non-invasive procedure which takes approximately 15 minutes.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP PREVENT OSTEOPOROSIS?
The treatment of osteoporosis focuses on slowing down or stopping bone loss. It was once believed that when bone loss occurred, new bone could not be generated. However, there are a few new medications to treat osteoporosis that actually work to strengthen and rebuild bone tissue. Medications are often used
after a diagnosis of osteoporosis is made. However, there are lifestyle changes that you can make to minimize your risk.
- Diet – A diet that includes an adequate amount of calcium, Vitamin D, and protein should be maintained.
- High calcium foods – Include low-fat milk, yogurt, ice cream, cheese, tofu, salmon and sardines (with the bones) and green leafy vegetables (spinach or collard greens).
- Exercise – Regular weight-bearing exercise can reduce the likelihood of bone fractures associated with osteoporosis.
- Stop unhealthy habits – If you smoke, quit. Also limit alcohol intake. Limit beverages containing caffeine.
- Prevent falls – it is critical to prevent falls. Make sure your vision is good. Avoid areas that may increase your risk of falling. Use handrails in the bathtub if necessary. Remove throw rugs that may cause you to trip.
- Medications – There are a number of medications that are now used to prevent osteoporosis.
AFTER THE EXAM
- The technologist cannot give you any test results. But, he or she can answer any general questions you may have.
- You will be able to go home and return to normal activities.
- The scan will be read by a radiologist. You can expect follow up from your provider regarding the results of your test.
You will receive two bills for your radiology examination. Western Wisconsin Health will bill for the examination. There will be a separate bill for the interpretation.
We thank you for allowing us to serve you and welcome any questions or comments you may have.
As a patient you have the right to know about and discuss with your family, your doctor and your nurse exactly what type of treatment and care you will be receiving.
The healthcare team of Western Wisconsin Health accepts the responsibility to ensure that you are adequately informed about all procedures. We hope the enclosed information will help.