DEXA Scan | Bellingham, WA

One of the most common medical imaging exams at Bellingham Advanced Medical Imaging is the bone density or DEXA scan. Painless and fairly quick, a DEXA scan give you and your health care provider a look at the bone mineral density of your bones. You’ve likely had X-rays of your teeth at the dentist. Body X-rays are very similar.

X-rays are a simple, non-invasive, and quick way to get a look inside your body. They can help your X-ray clinic’s radiologist spot broken bones, foreign objects, and even diseases in certain parts of your body.

What is a DEXA scan? How do DEXA scans work?

Bone density scanning, also called dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) or bone densitometry, is an enhanced form of x-ray technology that is used to measure bone loss.

Radiography Machine.H02.2k

DEXA is today's established standard for measuring bone mineral density (BMD).

The DEXA machine sends a thin, invisible beam of low-dose x-rays with two distinct energy peaks through the bones being examined. One peak is absorbed mainly by soft tissue and the other by bone. The soft tissue amount can be subtracted from the total and what remains is a patient's bone mineral density.

DEXA machines feature special software that computes and display the bone density measurements on a computer monitor.

What to expect during your DEXA scan

When your provider refers you for a bone density test (DEXA scan) at Bellingham Advanced Medical Imaging, you will need to schedule an appointment. Our team is happy to help you find a time that works for you and often can see you the same week.

We recommend you leave valuables, including jewelry, at home—plan to arrive a few minutes before your appointment so we can go over any questions you have.

On the day of the exam, you may eat normally. You should not take calcium supplements for at least 24 hours before your exam. Depending on which part of your body needs to be scanned, you may need to change into a gown, which we will provide. Whenever possible, we let you stay in your own clothes.

You may also need to remove body jewelry if it’s near the part of your body we need to scan.

Our technologist will help you get positioned for your DEXA scan.

If more than one image is needed, your technologist may help you reposition for a different angle. Let us know if we can help make you more comfortable as we get you in place. You won’t be able to feel the scan itself.

Women should always tell their doctor and technologist if they are pregnant. Doctors will not perform many tests during pregnancy to avoid exposing the fetus to radiation. If an x-ray is necessary, the doctor will take precautions to minimize radiation exposure to the baby.

After your DEXA scan

Your DEXA scan will be reviewed by a Bellingham Advanced Medical Imaging radiologist specially trained to interpret your results.

Your radiologist will write a report and send the information back to your primary care physician or the health care provider who referred you for a DEXA scan. That way, your provider can follow up with you about any treatment you may need or any further images.

Whatever brings you to Bellingham Advanced Medical Imaging for a DEXA scan, please know we are here to answer your questions and do anything we can to help your imaging exam be comfortable and as easy as possible for you.


At any point during this process, you’re welcome to contact the X-Ray team at Bellingham Advanced Medical Imaging in Bellingham, WA at (360) 255-6330 with any questions or concerns you have.


Schedule your appointment today!