What is a DEXA (or BMD) scan?

A DEXA (dual energy x-ray absorptiometry) scan is a means of measuring bone density.


No preparation is involved. However, please advise the technologist if you have any metallic implants in your spine, artificial hips or metallic screws or pins in your hips.
DO NOT schedule your DEXA scan within one week of having had a Barium Meal or Enema, an IVP, a nuclear medicine study or a CT Scan.


It is a simple procedure, involving no injections, and is not painful. You are required to lie on a table supported by a cushion whilst you are scanned.

What does a DEXA scan measure?

The DEXA scan measures bone mineral density, to detect possible osteoporosis. Osteoporosis results from loss of bone mineral to a level which potentially increases the risk of fractures.

When the bone density measurements are obtained, they are compared against the normal population of people of the same age, weight, sex and ethnic background, and also against normal young adults.

Your doctor will then use the results to assess fracture risk and decide if any treatment is required.

How long will the procedure take?

It takes approximately 10 - 20 minutes. After you have left, the technologist will analyse the results on the computer and give the results to a radiologist for interpretation.

Please bring any previous x-rays with you on the day of your examination.