Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry (DEXA)
Instrumental in the development of the technique to measure bone mass, the Bone Health Program's medical specialists use a totally non-invasive painless procedure, called Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) to ensure a thoughtful and accurate diagnosis and certain response to therapy.
The DEXA, which is a simple and fast procedure involving no discomfort, can measure bone mass in the spine, hip and wrist. During DEXA, the patient lies on a padded table while a mechanical arm passes back and forth over the area being measured without touching the patient. No injections or dyes are used. Within 5-7 minutes, the X-ray beam records the amount of calcium in the bone. A computer attached to the machine calculates the amount of bone mineral and compares it to the values considered normal in people of the same age and sex as the patient. The amount of radiation received is minimal since it delivers only one-sixth that of a chest X-ray or the same amount a person might get from the altitude while flying from New York to Los Angeles. Although the amount of radiation exposure is minimal, DEXA of the hip and spine is not performed on pregnant women.
The test is administered by highly trained DEXA technicians and interpreted by Washington University specialists. The tests are supported by Medicare and most insurance companies.
Blood and urine tests
The staff also administer blood and urine tests for the diagnosis and treatment of calcium and phosphate disorders.
With this careful analysis, the medical specialist recommends appropriate preventive or therapeutic action. Treatment may include a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, a regular program of weight-bearing exercise, and medical treatment.