Whether you’re thinking of using a DEXA scan for body composition testing or to monitor your risk of osteoporosis, you may be wondering how safe the procedure really is. We’re here to put your mind at ease! Read on to learn more about how the procedure works and the safety of DEXA scan radiation.
DEXA Scan Radiation Explained
DEXA scans measure bone density and body composition by passing a high and low energy x-ray beam (a form of ionizing radiation) through the body, usually in the hip and the spine.
The amount of radiation used in DEXA scans is very low and similar to the amount of radiation used in common x-rays. Although we all are exposed to ionizing radiation every day from the natural environment, added exposures can slightly increase the risk of developing cancer later in life. However, this procedure is extremely common and safe to undergo. DEXA scan radiation is equivalent to what you would experience on a transatlantic flight.
If you are at risk of osteoporosis and need a scan to track changes in bone density, the benefits of the procedure outweigh and minor risk. If you are taking osteoporosis treatment and will need multiple scans, it is best to space them out to mitigate the risks of DEXA scan radiation. Your healthcare provider will recommend the best schedule.
What To Expect At Your Appointment
Your healthcare provider may recommend a DEXA scan to test for osteoporosis or if you are in need of a body composition test for medical reasons.
During the procedure, you may be asked to remove jewelry, eyeglasses, and any clothing that may interfere with the imaging. You will lay on a table and lay still while the images are taken. The procedure typically lasts about 15-20 minutes. Your healthcare provider will follow up with you with your test results and proceed with a treatment plan if necessary.