As we move forward through our years, we will be contemplating various problems that are starting to surface and make their presence felt. First, our taut and youthful skin starts to become wrinkled and saggy. Fluid joints eventually become stiff, cranky and arthritic. Then there is the problem with the bones. We can be sure to expect that it will not be as strong and solid as they all used to be. This should signal affected individuals to get a bone density scan.
Also referred to as DEXA, the bone density scan is an official part of a complete physical exam. It involves X-ray advanced technology for calculating mineral amounts (calcium) within the bone systems. The bone amounts measured in the scanners used is officially called “bone density.” The bone density in people varies significantly just like the height differences in humans, the lower the density in the bones; the greater the risks will be of developing fractures in the future.
Among the most crippling maladies people these days concern themselves the most is the osteoporosis phenomenon. This is a serious medical condition where the human bones begin to lose calcium in significant amounts that they will become brittle, making them break easily. This condition also causes people in their golden ages to hunch over. To address the issue early on, getting a density scan for the bones is the smartest thing to do.
To begin with, the procedure is relatively painless. The patient will have to lie down still while undergoing minor ionized radiation scans in his body. He should be in comfortable clothes while at it, and take off anything that might be misinterpreted by the scan, such as jewelry and zippers on the clothes. The process will be administered usually as a regular outpatient procedure.
Bone scans will measure the amount of bones within particular parts of the body, particularly the lower portions of the spine, the hips, forearms and heel. Doctors will use the data gathered from the scans for assessment, specifically in the likelihood of any future bone fractures and if treatment would be needed in such case.
The scanning of the bones for their density can predict and evaluate a patient’s overall risks to bone fracture issues in the immediate future. Most of the scanning machines utilized for the procedure make use of X-rays narrow beams, though some procedures would call for an ultrasound instead. The X-ray dosage used is practically very small, only a fraction needed in chest X-rays.
Particular sites are scanned based on what suits certain patients. Hip scans for example, are suited for predicting future hip fractures, but then some patients may be physically unable to get into the proper position. A single scan is practically enough to asses overall future bone fracture risks in most cases, though a second scan will be called for in two to three years time whenever a new decision will be needed for the treatment. Bone density scan procedures may also be needed in those patients required to undergo steroid therapy in the long term.
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