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Bone density (DEXA SCAN)

What is a bone density scan?

A bone density scan is a measure of bone mass and can be performed at the spine, proximal femur and distal radius.

How will this test help in the management and treatment of your IBD?

Assess bone density and determine any steroid or nutrition related bone thinning.

What’s involved

You will be asked to lie on an x-ray table and the technologist will position your legs with a sponge support between them. The scanner will capture images.

Length of procedure

The scan takes approximately 10 minutes to complete.

Bone density scan - Commonly Asked Questions

How much radiation will I get from this test?

The radiation dose is approximately one-tenth of a standard chest X-ray.

How are the results expressed?

Bone mass density (BMD) results are typically expressed as the number of standard deviations above or below the mean for a young adult population (called the T-score) or an age-matched population (called the Z-score).

Can bone thinning (osteopenia or osteoporosis) be treated?

Yes, there are many ways to decrease this risk:

  • Adequate calcium intake is one of these. It is recommended that patients taking steroids maintain a calcium intake of 1000 to 1500mg per day. This can be done by including calcium rich foods in your diet, especially dairy products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt. In general, one will need at least 3 serves of dairy products per day to provide sufficient calcium
  • Another method of improving vitamin D levels is via casual sunlight exposure. This should occur before 10am and after 3pm for periods dependent on the latitude and time of year. However, given the risks of skin cancer, excessive sun exposure should be avoided. Your doctor will be able to advise you regarding what level of sunlight exposure is safe for you
  • Participating in regular weight-bearing exercise (at least 30 minutes each day) will also decrease your fracture risk. Other simple measures include avoiding excess alcohol


If you are interested in other gastrointestinal-focused information and intervention websites developed and hosted at
Swinburne University of Technology,
please go to:

IBSclinic.org.au for individuals with Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Gastroparesisclinic.org for individuals with Gastroparesis


This website and its content is not intended or recommended as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek advice of your own physician or other qualified health care professional regarding any medical questions or conditions.

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