Bone Densitometry

Bone densitometry, sometimes referred to as a DEXA scan (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry), is the gold standard for measuring the density of your bones to evaluate bone strength and the potential for bone fractures and osteoporosis.  

Osteoporosis is the most common type of bone disease. Osteoporosis occurs when the body fails to produce enough new bone or when too much existing bone is reabsorbed by the body.  Osteoporosis is a condition in which there is a progressive loss in bone density and strength, resulting in an increased risk for bone fractures.

The most common risk factors are:

  • Age
  • Postmenopausal (no longer having periods)
  • Early menopause (before age 45)
  • Surgical menopause (the removal of uterus and/or ovaries)
  • Previous bone fractures
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Certain medications (including steroids and thyroid hormones)
  • Caucasian/Asian descent
  • Thin or small build
  • Eating disorders
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Inactive lifestyle
  • Inadequate calcium intake

Calcium and phosphate are two minerals essential for normal bone formation, and if your body does not absorb enough of these minerals from your diet, bone production suffers and the bone thins. 

The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends that all women over the age of 65 have a bone density scan unless you are at high risk, in which case your referring healthcare provider may recommend one sooner.womens-imaging-bone-density1.jpg

At Brookhaven Women’s Imaging, our leading-edge bone densitometry system uses low-dose X-ray that checks bone mass and signs of bone mineral loss. It is a simple, painless and noninvasive procedure that takes approximately 15 minutes. 

The most accurate results are given when the testing is performed on the spine or hip.

Preparation: Do not take any over-the-counter calcium supplements twenty-four (24) hours prior to the day of your examination.

On the day of your bone density examination, it is best to wear a comfortable, two-piece outfit. Do not wear any items with metal or zippers as it may interfere with your results. 

What to Expect: You will lie on your back and on your side on a table while an overhead “arm” scans your body to take the reading of your bone density. You will need to lie still while the images are being taken in order for the images to be clear.womens-imaging-bone-density2.jpg

Your Results: Your healthcare provider will receive a computerized printout from the physician who interpreted your results and identify any areas of concern and will review the results with you. Bone density examinations are usually performed every two (2) years unless otherwise indicated by your healthcare provider.

FAQs

What is mammography?

A mammogram is a very safe low-dose X-ray examination of the breasts that is used to to detect and diagnose breast diseases. A screening mammography is used for women with no symptoms and is a tool in the prevention of breast disease. A diagnostic mammography is for women with symptoms, i.e., breast mass, nipple discharge and breast pain or skin irritation.

Do you accept all insurance plans?

Most health insurance plans that participate with Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center are accepted. To ensure your insurance is accepted, it is advisable you contact your insurance company's telephone number on the back of your card.

Why do I need a doctor's prescription to have my exam?

It is a requirement that a doctor prescribes the test. We want to ensure you are getting the proper care as requested by your doctor.

When should I schedule my mammogram?

Schedule your mammogram after you obtain a prescription from your doctor. Your doctor should perform a clinical breast examination, and you should discuss any problems you may have with your breasts. Usually the best time for your mammogram is one week after your menstrual cycle when your breasts are less tender.

Why do I need to arrive 15 minutes before my actual appointment time?

We want to ensure you have enough time to be registered and to complete the required forms.

Why do I need to bring my prior films?

If you have had prior studies, it is in your best interest to bring any films as well as any reports with you. In some cases, it may prevent the need for you to return for additional imaging if the radiologist has prior studies to compare your scans to.

What do I need to do to prepare for my mammography?

On the day of your examination:

  • Remember to bring your prescription, health insurance card and photo ID with you.
  • Do not wear any deodorant, creams, lotions or powders.
  • Inform the technologist if there may be a chance you could be pregnant.

Who will perform my exam?

All exams are performed by highly trained certified technologists. Some procedures are performed by a board-certified radiologist.

What should I expect during my mammography?

The technologist will ask you to remove any jewelry and clothing from the waist up and will give you a gown with the opening to the front. The technologist will help guide and position your breasts on the platform of the machine. A compression paddle will compress your breasts to evenly spread out breast thickness so that small abnormalities will not be obscured.  You will be asked to change positions in between images. This is repeated for each breast.

What will I experience during the examination?

The examination takes approximately a half an hour. Some women with sensitive breasts may feel minor discomfort. During the examination, you will feel pressure on the breasts as they are compressed. The technologist should be informed if any pain is significant, as compression is increased during the examination. The technologist will adjust the compression as necessary.

Will I need to return for additional images?

It is not uncommon for the radiologist to request additional imaging to obtain more detailed information of a specific area.

How will I receive the results of my exam?

Our radiologists are board certified by the American College of Radiology (ACR) and will interpret your study. You will receive the results of your exam by mail within a few days. Your referring physician will receive the actual report. Any suspicious findings are faxed to your referring physician immediately, and you will be notified by mail.

Support Groups
Breast Cancer and the New Normal
Open Support Group

Join our Open Group every other Tuesday evening from 7:00pm - 8:30pm
Discuss issues relevant to your Diagnosis, Treatment and Survivorship.
Location: Breast Health Services, 100 Hospital Rd Suite 106, Patchogue NY (Building across from the Main Entrance to Brookhaven Hospital). A free service for breast cancer patients. Call 631-654-7577 for details.

Healthy Focus