Patients and Visitors
When you arrive at the department you will be greeted by our reception staff. You will be asked to complete a simple questionnaire. When you have done this the radiographer will then take you into the private scanning room. They will then measure your height and weight, and start the bone density scan.
The bone density scan itself is a simple procedure, which takes about 20 minutes. You will be asked to lie on a scanner table where the slow moving ‘arm’ of the scanner will pass over your body and take some pictures of your bones. Most people who have this type of scan will have scans of their hips and their lower back (lumbar spine).
For the pictures of your hips, we position your legs so that your toes point inwards like you are pigeon toed. This gives us a clearer picture of your hip.
For your lower back picture, we need you to rest your legs on a raised foam block. This helps to keep your back straight, and it also makes you more comfortable.
Questions about your scan:
Do I need to prepare for the bone density scan?
It is important that no metal objects (for example, zips), or heavy buttons, fasteners, or belts get in the way of the picture. Please try to wear either trousers without a zip (such as tracksuit trousers) or a skirt where the zip can be twisted out of the way (around the waist).
We do have hospital gowns should you require one.
If I am taking tablets, or other medications, do I need to stop taking them?
Please continue to take any medication that your doctor has prescribed.
Please bring a list of your medication with you.
What else do I need to bring with me?
You may find that you need to bring your glasses with you to complete the bone density scan questionnaire. (Our staff can help with this.) If you have a hearing aid, then please wear it so that you can hear the practitioner carrying out your scan.
Will the bone density scan be uncomfortable?
A few people find it difficult to lie on their back. If you do have discomfort please tell the practitioner carrying out your scan. They will then try to make you as comfortable as possible.
Is there a dangerous level of radiation?
The x-ray dose from a DEXA scan is very low and much lower than most other medical x-ray procedures. It is so low the practitioner can safely stay in the scan room with you and it is about the same as a day’s worth of background radiation. Background radiation is the dose we get each day just by living on planet Earth.
If you are pregnant please let us know. We will be able to rearrange the appointment date for after the birth.
What happens to the results of the bone density scan?
Your pictures will be analysed using a computer. These results are then checked and a report is sent to the doctor who asked us to perform the procedure. The doctor should receive the report within two-three weeks. They will be able to tell you whether your bones are within the normal range, whether you have lower bone mass for your age or a diagnosis of Osteoporosis.