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Additional diagnostic tests

Additional diagnostic tests

Additional diagnostic tests

Bone density scan


Fluoroscopy uses X-rays to obtain real-time moving images of the body and is often used to diagnose problems of the gut. In a ‘barium meal’ for example the patient swallows a drink of barium, which shows up on X-ray, to give moving pictures of the stomach and intestine which are shown on a monitor.

For further details read our Barium meal patient information guide.

Bone density scan

What is a bone density scan?

A bone density scan, also known as a DEXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) scan, uses X-ray equipment to look for signs of fragile bones (osteoporosis), which have a low density. The results of the scan help to assess the risk of fractures in different bones, and to monitor how well treatment for osteoporosis is working. 

A detector measures how much radiation passes through the bones and works out a score of the average density for the bone compared to expected measurements for someone of your age and sex. A low score indicates the bone is fragile and therefore more likely to fracture. You’re likely to benefit from having a DEXA scan if you have fractured a bone after only a minor fall or bump, or are in a high-risk group for osteoporosis.  

The X-ray machine slowly passes over the body and sends X-rays through the bones being tested. The test usually takes 20-30 minutes and is painless. Results are sent to the GP or consultant who requested the test. 

Are there any risks?

DEXA scans are commonly performed and safe. Patients are exposed to some X-ray radiation (the level of exposure will depend on the procedure), but the amount isn’t considered to be harmful. Pregnant women are advised not to have a DEXA scan as there is a risk that the radiation may harm the unborn baby. 

There are limitations to the information that can be obtained from DEXA scans. Many people do have fragile bones and have fractures, even though their results don’t indicate that they are at risk, so it’s important that you and your doctor consider other risk factors when deciding whether to have treatment to help prevent fractures. 

For further details read our Bone density scan patient information guide.

For more information on these conditions, treatments and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, please select a subject of interest to you. This information will open in a new window.

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