Bone Density Test (DEXA or DEX)

Osteoporosis is a silent disease.

It has no obvious symptoms in its early stages and is often diagnosed only after a fracture occurs. However, in some cases, there are warning signs, such as:

  • Loss of height
  • Spine curvature (due to bone loss)
  • Back pain
  • History of fracture as an adult

Bone Density Test 

Bone mineral density testing is a painless and safe way to diagnose osteoporosis. Bone density is measured through dual-energy X-ray absorption (DXA or DEXA) scans of the hip or spine. The test is used to determine the “hardness” of a patient’s bones, particularly the lower back and hips, which are evaluated in a standard bone density test. 

DXA scans are available at several of our medical offices across San Diego County. Ask your primary care physician about whether you should have your bone density tested.

Your T-Score

The result of your DXA scan is presented as a T-score, which represents the difference of your bone density from the average bone density of healthy young adults.

Pre-osteoporosis (Low bone mineral density)
Diagnosed if your T-score is between -1.0 and -2.5.

Diagnosed if your T-score is -2.5 or less. This means that your bone density is equal to or less than 2.5 standard deviations below the mean of a healthy young adult.

Although any negative T-score means that a person’s bone density is below average, a T-score greater than -1.0 is considered normal.

What Your Bone Scan Doesn’t Tell You
Your bone mineral density T-score is a two-dimensional, cross-sectional view of just one bone in your skeleton and does not indicate other factors that may influence your risk for a fracture, including problems with vision or balance.

After Your Diagnosis

After being diagnosed with osteoporosis or low bone mineral density, your physician may recommend follow-up bone mineral density scans to evaluate whether treatment options are working.