DEXA SCAN: Body Fat, Muscle, and Bone Testing

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As you know, I have recently broken five ribs, so today I want to introduce you DEXA scan, a tool that uses x ray technology to determine the distribution of lean muscle, fat, water and bone in your body. Unlike any other body composition measuring tool, DEXA results are really accurate!

It works by passing two safe and very low dose x-ray beams at differing energy levels through the tissues of the body. The amount of radiation that passes through the tissue is measured by a detector. Finally, the computer determines how much of your tissue is muscle, fat, water or bone and where it’s all located. It sounds good, isn’t it?

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There are two different procedures:

DEXA Body Composition

DEXA Scan gives you the most precise information about your body fat, muscle, and bone composition, and lets you track changes in body composition over time.

The results show you your body fat, lean tissue (muscle), bone weight and percentages; breakdowns for both legs, arms and your torso; where your body fat and muscle is distributed and, finally, visceral fat.

DEXA Scan also gives you precise measurements of fat and muscle distributed around your body, muscle asymmetry that you need to correct to reduce injuries and track potentially dangerous visceral fat around your vital organs. This way, you get a better sense of where you are now and you can track the improvement over time.

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How a DEXA Body Composition Scan Works?

The scan takes about 7 minutes, where you’ll be lying flat on the scanning bed. So, if you want to test it, you have to find a location near you (USA, UK, Australia and New Zealand) and schedule an appointment. Be sure you don’t take calcium supplements for at least 24 hours before the exam and avoid wearing clothes with metal zippers or hooks. Finally, lay flat on the scanning bed for only 7 minutes and, after you’re scanned, you’ll get your results and a professional will inform you.

What type of results should I expect?

Total body bone mineral density, total body muscle mass, total body fat mass, total body bone mass, total body fat percentage, muscle and fat mass in the trunk, muscle and fat mass in your right and left arm, muscle and fat mass in your right and left leg and central abdominal fat measurement.

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DEXA Bone Density

A Bone Densitometry test is used to measure how strong your bones are. It is used to identify osteoporosis and to determine a person’s risk for developing fractures.

For 10 to 20 minutes, you’ll lie still on a table as a wand scans over your body. It’s painless, noninvasive and the radiation is low. You’ll need to schedule a follow up appointment with your doctor after you’ve been scanned to discuss your results.

The DEXA scanner uses two X-ray beams; one high energy and one low energy. It will measure the X-rays that pass through the bone from each beam. This will vary depending on how thick your bone is. Based on the difference between the two beams, the machine determines your bone density.

When to Scan?

1) If you are female and older than 65, 2) if you are female, menopausal or post menopausal and under the age of 45, under the age of 65 with other risk factors, or if you are not taking estrogen, 3) if you are male and older than 70, 4) if you are male and have clinical conditions associated with bone loss, 5) if you have broken a bone over the age of 50, 6) if you have unexplained back pain or 7) if you have personal or family history of hip fracture, smoking or osteoporosis and other diseases.

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How a DEXA Bone Density Scan Works?

You have to talk to your doctor about your eligibility for Bone Density Testing. Then, you have to schedule an appointment for the scan and an additional appointment with your doctor to discuss the results. Remember not to take calcium supplements for at least 24 hours before the exam and avoid wearing clothes with metal zippers or hooks. Finally, lay flat on the scanning bed for just 10 to 20 minutes and then discuss your results with your health care provider.

Most Bone Densitometry will focus on your hips and spine. You’ll be asked to use a foam block to capture your hip in different positions.

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What type of results should I expect?

T score: This number shows your Bone Mineral Density compared to young adults of the same gender in peak health.

-1 and above: this is considered a normal score

between -1 and -2.5: this is classified as osteopenia (low bone mass)

below -2.5: this is classified as osteoporosis (extremely low bone mass)

Z score: This number shows your Bone Mineral Density compared to other people in your age group of the same size and gender. If this score is more than 2 standard deviations above or below average, it may indicate a need for further medical tests.

Did you know about these procedures? Have you heard about DEXA scan? I hope you find it interesting!

Have a nice week!

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