Bone density scan

What is DXA?

Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DXA also know as DEXA) uses very low levels of radiation to look at your bone density. It is a quick test where you lie on a couch and a dual energy X-ray source passes over you. The only discomfort you will feel is if you struggle to lie still for short periods of time.

This test can be used to identify weakening bones (osteoporosis) which can lead to an increased risk of bone breaks (fractures). Your doctor will use the results of this scan with their understanding of your condition to help you decide on the best treatment for you.

What do I need to know?

This video tells you what to expect if you're having a DXA scan and gives you information about the risks.

What information is obtained?

  • DXA scans are used to look at your bone density.

  • DXA scans may be used if you:

    • Have broken a bone easily, such as after having a fall;

    • Are on medicine such as steroids;

    • Have another health condition such as thyroid or liver disease;

    • Have a condition such as coeliac that affects the way your body uses food.


  • DXA will only be used if a healthcare professional can show that the benefit to you is greater than the risk (justified).

  • X-rays do not hurt.

  • The equipment will be maintained to reduce the dose to keep the dose and risk to you as low as possible.

  • The individual carrying out the imaging will be trained to keep the dose and risk to you as low as possible.

  • If you have any more questions please ask a healthcare professional.

If you'd like to find out more about the risks of DXA, there is more information within the 'Radiation Risk' section.