Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) is the method by which a patient's bone mineral density (BMD) is measured to determine the strength of your bones; and thereby, is an excellent diagnostic tool for the presence of osteopenia or osteoporosis.
DEXA uses two different X-ray beams. The amounts of each X-ray beam that are blocked by bone and soft tissue are compared to estimate the bone density. DEXA is the most accurate method for measuring BMD. It is fast and uses very low doses of radiation. DEXA measures bone mineral density on bones of the spine and hip. Under good conditions, DEXA can measure as little as 2% of bone loss per year. Bone loss is a normal part of the aging process but medical intervention is possible once properly diagnosed.
Some risk factors that individuals should keep an eye on are: low bone mass, being thin (under 127 lbs.), advanced age of 65 or older, family history of osteoporosis, personal history of fracture after age 50, estrogen deficiency from menopause, low testosterone levels in men, inactive lifestyle, cigarette smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and anorexia nervosa.
For information on osteoporosis detection and treatment click here.