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DXA Osteoporosis Testing

We test for osteoporosis with a form of bone densitometry called dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA or DEXA). This test uses X-rays to estimate bone strength. We look at both the spine and the hip, since the best predictor of spine fractures is the bone density in the spine and the best predictor of hip fractures is the bone density in the hip. Spine and hip fractures are important because they are the most serious fractures sustained by people with osteoporosis. In some cases, we evaluate the forearm as well, particularly when arthritis of the spine prevents getting an accurate measurement of the spine density.

As part of the bone density assessment, we also take pictures of the upper and lower back to look for spinal compression fractures that indicate a more significant form of osteoporosis. These pictures can show degeneration or improper alignment of the spine as well.

Here are two links to help you estimate your risk of a fracture based on various risk factors:

World Health Organization Fracture Risk Assessment Tool

University of Washington Fracture Risk Calculator (this one requires knowledge of your DXA bone density value)

Contact us to ask any questions.

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