What is a DEXA Scan?
Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry Scan (DEXA or DXA Scan) is an advanced, highly accurate imaging technique for measuring total body composition. It uses X-ray beams at two different energy levels. Your muscles, fat, and bone all absorb the rays differently, allowing for a detailed and accurate image of your whole body and the breakdown of its compositions. The amount of radiation used for a DEXA scan is very low, lower than the background radiation you receive in a day. In general the scan can take anywhere from six to twelve minutes depending on body habitus. A detailed report is then created outlining the patient’s body composition.
Why use a DEXA scan over other options?
The reason DEXA scans are the gold standard of body composition measurements are; is the safest, most accurate and cost effective method. Not only can it measure body composition to the highest degree, it can specify body fat percentages to each area of the body. During dieting and exercise this can be used to track progress and help achieve desired goals. DEXA scans can also measure bone density and muscle mass, which can help track muscle atrophy during recovery periods from injuries.
What are the other options?
- Skin calipers: cost effective and most accessible. These can only measure visible body fat under the skin. There is also a high likelihood of technical errors that can occur. Very inaccurate when it comes to individuals who are either very lean or obese. Since it cannot measure visceral fat (fat around the organs) it’s use is limited to aesthetic purposes.
- Bioelectrical impedance analysis: Extensive variables make this quite unreliable. Can over or under estimate body fat percentage and body composition. It measures body fat percentages by sending electrical impulses throughout the body. Over or under hydration can exponentially reduce accuracy
- Hydrostatic weighing: This is a very accurate method of measuring body composition, but requires very expensive resources, and is a lengthy process. Patients are weighed under water using heavy machinery. This process, although very accurate is widely unavailable to the masses.
- Air-displacement plethysmography (BOD/POD): Similar to hydrostatic weighing. Very accurate but requires heavy machinery and is quite expensive. Can only be found in medical facilities associated with universities and research.
- CT Scans: High doses of radiation. Not very accurate at measuring body composition
From these options, it is clear that DEXA scan can offer what you may need, in the most convenient and effective way.
Why would I use DEXA?
- DEXA can help you follow your health risks more closely. Body weight or BMI (Body Mass Index) alone cannot be the sole defining factor to measure your health risks for diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, anorexia or other diseases. Knowing the fat to muscle mass ratio is more helpful in monitoring your health.
- Athletes who are looking to achieve their target muscle to fat ratio, or interested in seeing the results of their training regimen. You can also assess how ready your body is to face an upcoming challenge.
- Personal trainers can benefit from having information that a DEXA scan can provide for their customers. It allows them to see the progress more quantitatively, without having to solely rely on the scale or superficial means. It can also provide helpful feedback on the diet and exercises being implemented. Personal trainers themselves can use DEXA to keep track and maintain their own progress. Another great advantage of DEXA is that it can assess the Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) for the individual, which is an important factor to consider in customizing programs.
- Body builders need to target specific muscles and areas. DEXA scan can give accurate and thorough information on each body region and the distribution of fat, muscle and bone. It will give you a complete visualization so you can understand the impact of your training, and areas that need further attention.
- DEXA scan can also be useful for those recovering from an injury, or to assess muscle atrophy. It can play a big role in rehabilitation and in tracking the progression of a disease.
Sample of a Dexa Body Composition Report
How does the procedure work?
The patient is asked to wear clothes with no metal parts. They lie down on a flat table while an X-ray arm is passed over the patient, or the area of interest. The whole procedure only takes about 10 minutes or less depending on the size of the area being scanned. Detectors in the DEXA scanner measure the density of each component of your body, and a comprehensive report is created.
Accurate Imaging Diagnostics offers consultations with highly qualified professionals regarding your report, so you can gain a thorough understanding of your results at no extra cost to you.
You cannot do the scan if you are pregnant. If you are unsure if you may be pregnant please consult with your physician before booking your appointment. You must have no injected dye or radioisotopes left in your system from other procedures (CT scans, MRI’s etc…). You should not consume calcium supplements 24hrs prior to the scan. It’s important to not exercise before the scan, but you are able to exercise after. Please be aware that nutritional supplementation can alter the results of the scan. If possible it is best to avoid supplements until after the scan. Please allow up to 40 minutes from start to finish of the entire process. Please wear clothes with no metal (i.e. zippers belts jeweler). We do have a changing room on site if need be. Payment can be made through debit, credit and cash. Please be advised we do not accept cheques as a form of payment.