Reading a DXA Scan

Don’t be a victim of not knowing your situation, look at the below description of items on reading a DXA Scan. Understanding what is happening can help you understand how to fix the problem.


The Primary Measure for Reading a DXA Scan

When reading a DXA scan, locate the section heading, “T score.” This number compares the individual’s T score with the average bone mineral density of the average of 30 year olds of the same gender and race/ethnicity. Thirty years of age is generally considered where BMD is at its highest but there is some conflicting research showing that peak may be some years younger. BMD is equal to the BMD of a 30 year old if the score is “0”. The difference between the average of 30 year olds of the same gender and race/ethnicity and the patient is measured in standard deviations, which show a variation from the average. A score of -1 or higher is still considered normal, but scores between -1 and -2.5 are considered to be osteopenic which is like pre-osteoporosis bones and patients that get a score lower than -2.5 are diagnosed with osteoporosis. Notice the T score in the supporting graphic.


Secondary or Supporting Measures Found on a DXA scan

Locate the section heading for Bone Mass Density, sometimes abbreviated to; BMD. This is the number of grams per cubic centimeter of bone. This number is the easiest to understand for most. It literally means how much bone material exists in one cubic centimeter of bone. The greater the number, the greater density of the bone is indicated. This is not the primary number that determines diagnosis of osteopenia or osteoporosis as it lacks comparison to where the individual should be. There is one more measure that can aid a physician in a better understanding of the patient’s bone health. This is a Z score. The Z score uses standard deviations like the T score does, however the comparison instead of being with 30 year olds of the same gender and race/ethnicity, the comparison is to others in the same age group, same gender, and same race/ethnicity.


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