The menopause can often be associated with Osteoporosis: a condition of thinning and weakness of the bones which can result in fractures in later life particularly of the hip, the spine and the wrist. It is a major health hazard that results in an osteoporotic fracture in 1 in 3 women.

A DEXA scan compares your bone density with the bone density expected for a healthy adult of your own age, gender and ethnicity. This allows a clinician to diagnose if you have a low bone density, which can be associated with the oestrogen deficiency that follows the menopause, treatable with HRT, particularly in women under 60.

A DEXA bone scan can be a very important step in protecting and safeguarding your bones – and general health – during the menopause.

Why is there a need for a bone scan?

Osteoporosis is currently diagnosed on a bone density scanning machine when the amount of bone we have, as measured on the scan, is found to be significantly lower than average. The lower our bone density, the higher risk we have of breaking bones.

Bone density scans are only recommended for people who are considered to be at risk of having a fragility fracture.

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis literally means ‘porous bones’. It occurs when the struts that make up the structure within bones become thin, causing bones to become fragile and break more easily following a minor fall. These broken bones are often referred to as fragility fractures.

Although fractures can occur in different parts of the body, the wrists, hips and spine are most commonly affected. It is these broken bones or fractures which can lead to the pain associated with osteoporosis. Spinal fractures can also cause loss of height and curvature of the spine.

What is a DEXA Scan?

Dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) bone density scanning is the most commonly used diagnostic technique for osteoporosis.

As osteoporosis causes no symptoms until a bone is broken, it has traditionally been difficult to identify who may have fragile bones before a fracture occurs. Due to advances in technology and the development of bone densitometry (the measurement of bone density), We can now detect osteoporosis prior to any bones breaking. This gives individuals who are at a higher risk of fractures the opportunity to take treatments and adopt lifestyle changes in order to reduce their risk of breaking their bones.

What will happen when I have a scan?

It is a simple, painless procedure that uses very low doses of radiation, which is similar to natural background radiation – less than one tenth of the dosage of a chest x-ray.

A DEXA scan involves lying on a firm couch whilst a scanning arm passes over the body taking an image of the spine and hips.

A DEXA scan will take approximately ten minutes. It is a quick, simple and comfortable procedure.

It does not involve being enclosed in a mechanical tunnel or having any injections.

Usually you will not have to remove any of your clothing, but if there is a significant amount of metal near the hips or along the spinal area, this clothing may have to be removed so it does not affect the scan.

What is the difference between a DEXA scan and an ultrasound?

Ultrasound is an alternative method of investigating the health of other organs in your body, such as imaging the womb, liver, kidney, gallbladder, spleen, ovaries, bladder, breasts and eyes.

It works by generating sound waves of a high frequency, which are beamed into the body. The echoes of the reflected sound, or the rate and path of transmission of the sound, are used to build up an electronic image or measurement of the structure being examined. Ultrasound does not use radiation.

Where will I be scanned?

You will be scanned within the comfort of our 92 Harley Street clinic where we have a cutting edge DEXA scanner installed in its own premium room.

How I book?

Patients can make their own booking and they will not be charged a consultation fee. Please call 020 7034 1300 to make an appointment.

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