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Bone Density

A Better Bone Density Experience.

Convenience is important so we offer Bone Density exams and can often accommodate same-day exams and flexible scheduled appointments.

What is a Bone Density exam?

Bone Densitometry, also called dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, DEXA or DXA, uses a very small dose of ionizing radiation to produce pictures of the inside of the body (usually the lumbar spine and hips) to measure bone loss. It is commonly used to diagnose osteoporosis, to assess an individual’s risk for developing osteoporotic fractures. DEXA is simple, quick and noninvasive. It’s also the most commonly used and the most standard method for diagnosing osteoporosis.

This simple 10-minute procedure compares your bone density to that of the average bone density of a 30-year old healthy woman.


What Lifestyle Factors Contribute to Bone Loss?

  • Alcohol abuse
  • Frequent falling
  • Inadequate physical activity
  • Vitamin D insufficiency
  • Excessive thinness
  • High salt intake
  • Low calcium intake
  • Excessive vitamin A
  • Immobilization
  • Smoking (active or passive)


Bone density testing is strongly recommended if patient is:

  • a post-menopausal woman and not taking estrogen.
  • has a personal or maternal history of hip fracture or smoking.
  • a post-menopausal woman who is tall (>5’7”) or thin (< 125 lbs).
  • a man with clinical conditions associated with bone loss.
  • uses medications that are known to cause bone loss.
  • has type 1 diabetes, liver or kidney disease, or a family history of osteoporosis.
  • has high bone turnover (shows as excessive collagen in urine samples)
  • has a thyroid condition, such as hyperthyroidism.
  • has a parathyroid condition, such as hyperparathyroidism.
  • has experienced a fracture after only mild trauma.
  • has had x-ray evidence of vertebral fracture or other signs of osteoporosis.

Certain medical conditions and medications can also contribute to bone loss. Talk to your healthcare provider to assess whether any condition you have or treatments may be affecting your bone health. If so, your provider can write an order and you can schedule your exam at one of our convenient outpatient centers.

What you should know

Answers to frequently asked questions.

You might have a whole-body scan or of a scan of:

  • your hip and spine, also known as Central DEXA, which requires lying on a table.
  • your finger, hand, forearm or foot, also known as Peripheral DEXA, which uses a small device

Neither procedure hurts. These scans only take a few minutes.

Your scan results will show two types of scores. Together they provide a picture of your risk for breaking bones.

T Score

This number compares the amount of bone you have to a young adult of the same gender with peak bone mass.

  • Over -1 = Normal bone density
  • Between -1 and -2.5 = You might have osteopenia, the first stage of bone loss
  • Below -2.5 = You may have osteoporosis

Z Score

This number compares the amount of bone you have to other people of your age group, gender and race.

A score below -2 is considered abnormal.

If you are over the age of 50 with a family history of osteoporosis or symptoms such as unusual fractures, you should consult with a physician to determine if you need a DEXA scan.

At UVA Outpatient Imaging of Culpeper, we understand that the cost of an imaging exam can be a concern. Our rates for both insured and uninsured patients are substantially lower than the same exam performed at a hospital. We believe that price transparency is important so you can be prepared for your financial obligations, if any. To learn more about what your exam may cost, please click here.

The radiologist will review the DEXA images and provide a diagnostic report that will be sent directly to your provider. The report is typically available to your provider within 24-48 hours. Many providers plan scheduled time to discuss results with their patients so you could check with their office to see when they will be available to review the information with you.

Prep for your exam

  • Do not take calcium for 48 hours prior to the exam.


If you have any questions about your visit, please contact the imaging center at 540.321.3190.

Please review, fill out (where applicable), and print the following forms before your visit.