Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) is the gold standard in Bone Mineral Density measurement. A DEXA scan is a quick, painless way to accurately and reliably measure the density of your bones.

Over 6.6 million Australians have low bone density, but early detection can help you prevent osteoporosis. The sooner you find out if you have low bone density or osteoporosis the better, as it means you and your doctor can take action to keep your bones strong, slow bone loss and reduce the risk of breaks in the future.

* Please check with your GP or specialist as some patients may be eligible for a Medicare Rebate.

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Bone Mineral Density (BMD) Test

$9000per scan
  • Must be referred by your GP or specialist
  • Spine, Hip and Forearm Scan
  • Orthopaedic Scan
  • Lateral Vertebral/LVA

Who should have a DEXA scan?

Men and women over 50 with risk factors may need a bone check up with a bone density scan. If your bone density is low, you are more likely to fracture a bone in the future. Some risk factors may also require people under 50 to have a bone density scan.

The sooner you find out if you have low bone density or osteoporosis the better, you need to know as early as possible to manage your bone health. Finding out this information means you and your doctor can take action to keep your bones strong, slow bone loss and reduce the risk of breaks.

How do you measure Bone Mineral Density?

A DEXA Bone Mineral Density (BMD) scan is the most widely accepted test for osteoporosis and osteopenia (bone thinning). Simply put, DEXA determines how rich your bones are in minerals such as calcium and phosphorus. The higher the mineral content, the denser and stronger your bones are, and less likely they are to break under normal daily circumstances.

How do I get a DEXA scan?

Your general practitioner (or other medical practitioner) will review your risk factors for osteoporosis such as your family history, vitamin D and calcium levels, medical history (i.e., meds, hormone levels, or other conditions that might lower bone strength), and lifestyle factors (i.e., smoking, physical inactivity).

If you’re at risk, then your GP may refer you for a DEXA BMD scan.

What’s involved in getting a DEXA scan?

To have a scan you simply lie flat on the padded table of the DEXA scanner, the technician will position your body for scans on your hip (femoral neck) and lower back (lumbar region), and the DEXA arm will pass over your body.

If there are any medical reasons for which a reliable scan cannot be taken at the hip and/or lower back, then a wrist scan will be performed.

It is a relatively quick procedure and should be complete within 10 to 15 minutes. Your results will be read by a medical practitioner and a report sent to your doctor.

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Is DEXA safe?

A DEXA scan emits very low-dose x-ray beams, even less than a chest x-ray!

A DEXA Scan poses no significant health risk, and you would receive a similar amount of background radiation on a return flight from Sydney to Melbourne. 

However, you should not have a DEXA scan if you’re pregnant, potentially pregnant, or if you’ve recently had any other more powerful imaging (such as an MRI or CT scan) with contrasts like iodine.

Is a DEXA scan covered by Medicare?

If you meet certain criteria, your bone density test might be covered by Medicare. Alternatively, your private health fund might provide reimbursement depending on your individual level of coverage. If no coverage is available, you may pay for your scan out of pocket.

Rebates may apply for people:

Bodyandbone-Plus-iconPreviously diagnosed with osteoporosis

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With one or more previous fractures from a minor incident

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Aged 70 years or over

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Taking corticosteroids (common for asthma sufferers)

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Women who have reached early menopause

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Men with low testosterone levels

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Individuals with coeliac disease (or other malabsorption conditions), overactive thyroid or parathyroid conditions, rheumatoid arthritis, liver or kidney disease

What do my DEXA scan results mean?

The DEXA results you receive will be expressed as a T-score and fall into one of three classifications:

Normal

T-Score = 1 to -1

Continue to eat a healthy diet rich in calcium and vitamin D and maintain regular exercise.

Low Bone Density
Osteopenia or Bone Thinning

T-Score = -1 to -2.5

At risk for the development of osteoporosis with a low to medium fracture risk. You should work with your doctor on strategies to minimise further reductions in bone density.

Osteoporosis

T-Score = -2.5

Your fracture risk is high. You should work closely with your doctor to determine which treatment options are best for you.