Bone Densitometer

Bone densitometer: Everything You Should Know

Densitometer, a dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry DEXA, is ionizing radiation that gives an inside picture of the body. A bone densitometer (DXA/DEXA scan) is useful in measuring osseous loss and is a noninvasive and quick scan used in diagnosing osteoporosis. Osteopenia and osteoporosis is a condition that causes the failure of mineral and solidity.  

Bone densitometer scan is valid after the age of 60 for the examination of the lumbar spine and hip. It is also used to determine fracture. Both vertebral and hip fractures usually lead to death. The measurement of hip bone mineral density (BMD) is the most reliable way of eliminating the risk of hip fracture. The spine is an excellent site for the treatment because there is metabolically active trabecular ossification in the vertebrae.

History of bone densitometer

Two men, Dr. Richard Cameron and Dr. Richard Mazzes, introduced the technology of the measurement of ossification. From Hong Kong to McCaw, China, in 1990, during the first international osteoporosis symposium with the guidance of Dr. Claus Christiansen of Copenhagen, Denmark, Mr. Perry Owen of Proctor and Gamble Pharmaceuticals introduced the idea of developing DEXA scan. In 1987, the DEXA scan was first introduced.

Indications to use a bone densitometer

Bone densitometer (DEXA) scan is a leading, high-tech method for measuring body composition. In some places, the CT scan can also be used to diagnose low osseous mass. This test also assesses a person for the future possibility of fracture, and the risk of fracture is usually more common for aged people.

Many people have a healthy bony process. The condition in which there is no severe osseous matter loss is called osteopenia. So, in this condition, the probability of breaking the cartilage is low, and the test is not needed. The patient should exercise regularly and get a significant amount of calcium and vitamin D.

Structure of bony parts

The matrix, which is a tough cell that is different in pattern from other cells, makes up the osseous matter. The pattern has an organic and inorganic part. The inorganic part is called an osseous mineral part, which consists of calcium hydroxyapatite. In contrast, the organic component is made up of type 1 collagen. 

The organic part also consists of some growth factors such as,

  • Glycosaminoglycan
  • Osteocalcin
  • Osteonectin
  • osteopontin

Osteoporosis is a disease that makes the osseous part weaker, with numerous chances of fracture. The symptoms of these diseases are low mass and micro-architectural deterioration of calcified tissue.

There are some common sites where a fracture can quickly occur, such as:

  • Distal forearm
  • Vertebrae
  • Proximal femur

Osteoporotic treatment should include early detection. This treatment requires medical care, prevention, and diagnosis of the disease by a medical specialist who is a surgeon in orthopedics, rheumatology, endocrinology, and osteologists.

Methods of investigation

  1. Routine
  2. Specialized
  3. Mineral density

Post-menopausal women younger than 65 can go for an osseous density test if they are at risk of low rigid mass. The density test is painless and easy. It can estimate how thick your skeletal structures are after the use of an x-ray. 

The x-ray measures how much calcium and other minerals are in the bony process. If the crystals are more, then it is much better, indicating the strength of that area. The skeletal part is denser with a more considerable amount of minerals. Ossein, with less mineral content, is weaker and easily suspected to fracture.

We will discuss here the need for the test. A woman with the following symptoms should go for a DEXA survey test. 

  • If the age of the woman is 65 or older
  • She is a post-menopausal woman, 50 or older.
  • There are high chances of breaking a bone.
  • If posture is more hunched
  • If she has gotten an organ transplant
  • If there is a drop in hormone level

There are two types of density tests, and it takes less than 15 minutes:

Central DEXA

The Central DEXA method is for vertebrae and hips and can be more accurate and expensive. Central DEXA stands for central dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry.

During this test, you lie down on a platform that must be padded and fully clothed.

The arm of the machine should cross the upper portion of the body. It will send a low dose x-ray through your body. The test shows an image of the skeleton by observing the extent to which the x-ray changes after passing through the body. This test has a timing of 10 minutes. The image is then sent to an expert to read the result, which could take a few days.

Peripheral test

This test is used to measure cartilage solidity, especially in the following areas of the body:

  • Wrist
  • Fingers
  • Heel

This test is cheaper and is a great way to screen people who show a higher chance of osteoporosis.

Risks of a bone densitometer

This scan gives some amount of radiation. The radiation exposure is not good, and radioactivity can affect your body over your lifespan.

The side effects include:

  • Bony pain
  • Joint pain 
  • Muscle pain
  • Cracks in thighbone
  • Osseous loss in the jaw
  • Heart rhythm problems

Some drugs used in this treatment may also pose some side effects.

  • Blood clots
  • Heart attacks
  • Stroke

General specifications of bone densitometer

  • It is an advanced technology,
  • It has high image quality
  • It has a low dosage and faster scan
  • Several clinical applications:


An entry-level DEXA scan is a health care value segment that provides particular ossein only applications to ROI conscious. They are used in smaller clinics.

Achilles EXP II

It is a portable and x-ray free device that offers osteoporosis testing. It is light in weight and a very reliable ultrasound system that can assess the patient's fracture in no time.

Technology benefits

  1. Smart scan

It is a unique feature that identifies the bony regions after the sweep to estimate the location of the patient's exposure to the radiation rays.

  1. AP spine

It provides the estimate of mineral solidity for the lumbar spine.

  1. Lateral spine measurement 

This spine measurement provides an estimate of the mineral density.

How bone densitometer works

In DEXA scanning, the rays pass through skeletal parts, where they are absorbed. The things that are not absorbed are detected on the other side of the body. The denser the area, the more energy is absorbed.

The radiation energy can be detected and converted into "areal density," which uses g/cm as its unit of measurement to be able to calculate the density.

DEXA survey works through different methods. A machine sends x-rays from specific sources so they can test the part. 

The radiation is measured through a detector. There are no specifications for performing this examination. You should be fully clothed, and there is no need to remove any clothing. You just need to remove metal-containing materials. 

Market leaders

Buying this instrument, a medical density machine, for medical equipment, you need more information such as: 

  • Whole-body bone density machines
  • Heel bone densitometer
  • Fingerbone density machines

Here are some of the market leaders of bone densitometer:

  • GE Achilles express ultrasonometer
  • GE Lunar DPX Duo densitometer
  • GE Lunar DPX prodigy densitometer
  • GE lunar prodigy advance check densitometer
  • Hologic 4500C Full body check densitometer
  • Hologic Delphi densitometer upgraded
  • Hologic Delphi C densitometer


A bone densitometer is a clinically accepted technique used to assess fracture risk and any skeletal change. A bone densitometer is useful in measuring the density in the spine and hip. These methods use radiations that detect disease in the body and expose the future fragility, identifying if an area is fractured or not. Many high-quality instruments are used for this purpose. Practitioners often perform this scan on the wrist, fingers, and femur. The femur is the thigh bone, and the device can detect any fracture.

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