Bone Density Exam

Tucson Medical Center offers:

  • State-of-the-art equipment
  • Greater than 99 percent precision
  • Fastest technology available, 90 second scan
  • Test results available to your health care provider in 48-72 hours
  • Noninvasive
  • Painless and fast
  • Extremely safe — very small doses of radiation
  • Body composition of percent body fat (sports medicine)
  • Sophisticated comparisons made to a reference population based on age, weight, sex and race
  • Experienced radiologists with 15 years experience in bone densitometry
  • Registered technologists who are specifically certified in bone densitometry
  • Highly trained professional staff to answer your questions
What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a condition where bones become weak to the point of breaking. This weakening may be due to aging or caused by other factors that combine with age. Symptoms of osteoporosis do not occur until a significant amount of bone strength is lost. The most visible symptoms may include loss of height along with a curvature of the upper back. Osteoporosis also can result in crippling and painful fractures, occurring most often in the hip, back or wrist.

How do I know if I have osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is often called the “silent disease.” There are rarely signs until a lot of bone has been lost. A medical test that measures the amount of bone is the best way to detect osteoporosis. Bone densitometry is one such test, using small amounts of X-rays to measure the amount of bone mineral. The amount of bone mineral relates directly to bone strength.

Important risk factors for osteoporosis include:
  • Female
  • Caucasian
  • Advanced age
  • History of bone fracture
  • A small thin frame
  • A family history of osteoporosis
  • Removal of the ovaries
  • Early menopause
  • A low-calcium diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Alcohol and tobacco use
How does the densitometer work?

The bone densitometer uses small amounts of X-rays to produce images of the spine, hip or even the whole body. The X-ray is composed of two energy levels, which are absorbed differently by the bones in the body. A computer analyzes the variances in absorption levels to calculate how much bone mineral is present. The technical term for this method is “dual X-ray absorptiometry,” or DXA. The spine and hip are measured because that is where osteoporotic fractures occur most.

What can I expect during my bone densitometry test?

Bone mineral density testing determines a person’s bone-health status and potential fracture risk. The bone densitometer is like a large examination table. It is padded and comfortable. Your age, height, weight and race will be entered into the computer before your test. This information is used to compare your results to a normal reference group.

  • No calcium pills on the day of scan
  • Avoid clothing with zippers, metal or plastic buttons, and belts
  • Please wait one week after any contrast studies (i.e.- upper/lower GIs, CT scans, IVPs, etc.) to have your DEXA scan.

A certified densitomerty technologist will position your arms and legs for the test. The complete test is painless and typically takes one to 10 minutes. You just need to lie still and breathe normally. Results will be provided to your health care provider within 48-72 hours at which time you can contact your provider directly for your results.

Appointments made easy
  • We offer short waiting times for most appointments.
  • Simple scheduling:
    Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., via our Central Scheduling (324-2075) or Nuclear Medicine (324-5270).
  • Patients are sent an appointment confirmation letter, including procedure preparation as well as a map featuring parking and the location of Nuclear Medicine.

TMC accepts a wide variety of health insurance plans. Most exams require pre-authorization at the time of scheduling, so please check insurance coverage to be certain that pre-authorization has been obtained.

For the PDF of our DXA brochure, please click here.