Frequently Asked Questions - Bone Density

Dual Energy Absorptiometry (DXA) – Frequently Asked Questions (Bone Density)

What is a DXA bone density scan?
A bone density scan is a safe and painless procedure which involves being exposed to a small dose of ionising radiation (X-rays). It measures the density of the bones at the hip and lower spine, and calculates a score of the average bone density. A low score indicates that the bone is fragile and therefore more likely to fracture.

Why would I be advised to have a DXA bone density scan?
You could be advised to have a bone density scan if your healthcare practitioner in suspects that you have, or are at risk of developing, osteopenia or osteoporosis.

What is osteopenia?
Osteopenia refers to early signs of loss to bone mineral density which could lead to osteoporosis. Not everyone who has osteopenia will develop osteoporosis.

What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a disease where the density and quality of the bones are reduced. As the bone becomes more porous and fragile the risk of fracture greatly increases.

What are the common risk factors of developing osteopenia/osteoporosis?
The risk of developing osteopenia/osteoporosis increases with age as the bones become thinner naturally. Both men and women lose a small amount of bone each year after the age of 30. For women there is usually a more rapid bone loss when the production of the hormone oestrogen slows down (usually between the age of 45 – 55), therefore for women who go through the menopause early, or have a hysterectomy this can increase the risks. For men the thinning of the bones develops gradually as the production of the hormone testosterone slows down, usually when they reach the age of 45-50. Osteoporosis doesn’t usually affect people until after the age of 60, and typically affects far more women than men, as women on average have smaller and lighter bones than men. • Developing osteopenia/osteoporosis depends on the bone density in early life, as well as health, diet and physical activity. There are many factors listed below which can increase the risks for both sexes:
• Family history of osteoporosis – if the mother, father or sibling has been diagnosed with osteoporosis, or has experienced broken bones from a minor injury, there is an increased risk of developing the disease
• Certain medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, coeliac disease, anorexia nervosa, hyperparathyroidism, and hyperthyroidism
• Taking certain medications (for example long term use of steroids)
• Lifestyle factors – these include smoking; heavy alcohol use; leading an inactive lifestyle with little, or no weight bearing exercise; being small framed, thin or underweight; malnutrition; a diet low in calcium and vitamin D; high intake of fizzy drinks which contain phosphoric acid

How do I make an appointment for a DXA scan?
You will have to be referred for the scan by a healthcare practitioner such as a GP, Chiropractor, Osteopath or Physiotherapist (referral forms can be downloaded from this website). Once the referral form arrives at the WIOC it will reviewed by the operator prior to being passed to the clinic reception staff who will call you and schedule a convenient appointment date and time

How much will it cost?
The scans normally cost £100 this will be confirmed at the time of booking the appointment. A £30 non-refundable deposit will be taken by card over the phone at the time of booking, and the balance of the payment taken (preferably by card) on the day of the scan.

What happens if I can’t make the appointment?
If you have to cancel an appointment due to extenuating circumstances, however re-book for an alternative date, the deposit can be transferred to an alternative appointment. If however you do not show up without notifying us, or change your mind about having the scan, the deposit of £30 is non-refundable. It is advisable to contact the clinic reception on 01443 483555 as soon as possible to notify them if you cannot make the scheduled appointment.

What happens once I’ve made an appointment?
Once you have booked an appointment you will be sent a confirmation/information letter which will also includes directions by car, information on local transport and parking which is free. Inside the same envelope you will also receive a questionnaire which we kindly ask you to complete and bring with you on the day of your appointment.

What should I do if I have any questions or concerns?
You can either ring the clinic on 01443 483555 or you can speak to the operator on the day of your appointment.

What should I do when I arrive for my appointment?
You should report to the reception staff at the Welsh Institute of Chiropractic who will notify the operator of your arrival. They will ask you to take a seat and wait in the waiting area until the operator calls you.

When and how do I get the results from the scan?
The results will be sent directly to your referrer normally within 2 working days. Also as a matter of courtesy, and with your consent, we will also send a copy of your results to your GP if they were not your referrer. This will assist them with your healthcare needs and allow them to arrange any additional tests or onward referral which may be required. We will ask your GP details on the questionnaire you complete prior to your scan.