Bone Density (DEXA) Scan

bone diagram of a womanMetabolic bone disorders, like osteoporosis, are characterized by a loss of mineral and strength. Using Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) to measure the mineral density in a variety of bones can help provide important information to you and your physician for the diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of Osteoporosis and other metabolic bone conditions.

For more information about bone density measurements at OHSU call: (503) 494-4814

Bone Density DEXA Scan Locations

Center for Women's Health, Kohler Pavilion, 7th Floor

Park in the Center for Health & Healing Garage in the Patient Parking area at the Marquam Hill Campus. Take the elevator to the 7th floor and cross the hallway to the Center for Women's Health.

Center for Health & Healing, Rehabilitation Center, 1st Floor

Park in the Center for Health & Healing Garage at the South Waterfront Campus.  Take the elevator to the 1st Floor.  We are located in the Rehab center just to the right of the information desk.

Directions to OHSU Marquam Hill and South Waterfront Campus

FAQ's - Bone Density Measurement

Why should I have a DEXA measurement?

Various conditions, including simply aging, may increase the risk of osteoporosis. DEXA can help provide important information to you and your physician for the diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring of osteoporosis. Other bone measurements (for example, ultrasound performed on the heel) can also be used to detect osteoporosis, but DEXA scanning provides the most useful information.

Insurance Coverage

Most medical insurance companies, including Medicare, typically provide coverage for this procedure but coverage is not limited to osteoporosis. This procedure typically is covered for use in treating hypogonadism, chronic liver and renal disease, hyperparathyrodism and hyperthyroidism, prolonged glucocorticoid therapy, rheumatoid arthritis, and malabsorptive disorders.

What happens during a bone density measurement?

The DEXA machine uses a small amount of X-ray to measure the amount of mineral in the bones. It provides information that is different from regular X-rays, which show the shape and structure of bones. The amount of X-ray you are exposed to is the same as one day of natural background exposure, or about the same amount of radiation you might be exposed to during a cross-country plane trip.

The DEXA test is painless. You lie on a table or sit in a chair while the scanner scans the prescribed area(s).  Your visit will take approximately 20 minutes or less.


When should I delay a bone density measurement?

You should not have a bone density measurement within seven days of having any of the following tests:
  • Bone scan
  • Angiogram
  • CAT scan with contrast
  • Myelogram
  • Nuclear cardiology testing

How should I prepare for my DEXA measurement?

  • Wear clothing that is comfortable and easy to remove. You may be asked to change into a gown before the scan.
  • On the day of your appointment, do not take calcium supplements before the scan.
  • You will be asked to lie on a table on your back for five to 10 minutes.

What happens after the test?

 A specialist will review the test results and send them to your physician, who will give you the results.