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Bone Density Scans Offered with Comprehensive Health Exam

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Bone Density Scans Offered with Comprehensive Health Exam

Commonly used to measure bone health, dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) now has a dual purpose, measuring body composition as well. Cooper Clinic offers DEXA scanning for bone density and body composition as part of its comprehensive physical exam.

DEXA is an enhanced, low-radiation X-ray used to measure bone density that takes approximately 15 minutes to complete, and is most often performed on the lower spine and hips.

Osteoporosis/Bone Density Scan

For bone density measurements, Cooper Clinic recommends having a baseline DEXA scan at the following ages:

  • Women: age 35 baseline
  • Men: age 60 baseline

Follow-up tests are based on the baseline results and the physician’s discretion. However, Dr. Riva Rahl, Cooper Clinic Preventive Medicine Physician, notes that some medications, including steroids, heartburn medication and some seizure medications, can have harmful effects on bone density. She recommends regular testing for people who take these medications as well people who have experienced a significant fracture.  Also, those who have a testosterone or vitamin D deficiency are at risk for bone loss and should be evaluated.

 “I’ve seen a recent trend in male patients in their 40s who had a specific risk factor, being diagnosed with osteoporosis based on the DEXA results,” says Dr. Rahl.   “Because we detected the disease early, we’ve been able to intervene with appropriate medication, diet recommendations and a bone-strengthening exercise regimen to help slow the progression of the disease.”

Using DEXA for Body Composition Testing

Though DEXA scans are widely used to measure bone density, Cooper Clinic is one of the few medical facilities to use the technology to accurately and objectively measure body fat composition. Other body fat composition tests, such as skin fold/caliper measurements, are subjective methods of testing and may not produce the most accurate results.  Underwater weighing has some variability based upon the individual’s ability to fully expire all the air in his or her lungs; additionally, this requires maintaining a large tank of water at a specific temperature, which take up room and resources.

“DEXA scans the whole body and recognizes each different region of fat, and can even delineate between male and female fat,” according to Dr. Rahl.

This exact measurement gives patients a total body fat composition measurement. The ideal body fat measurement for a 40-year-old male is 20 to 24 percent, while 26 to 32 percent  is ideal for females of the same age. The DEXA body composition measurement is five percent higher for males and eight percent higher for females compared to the other more common body fat composition tests; DEXA takes into account the essential fat, which explains the higher normal reference range.

“People need to understand that the numbers are different because they come from a different frame of reference through the use of DEXA technology,” said Dr. Rahl.

At the forefront of preventive health and fitness, Cooper Clinic adopted this relatively new technology as part of its comprehensive exam to provide patients a thorough evaluation of their health followed with a plan and tools to maintain their good health or improve it. These tests are also important for developing a risk strategy from a cardiovascular metabolic standpoint.

Learn more about Cooper Clinic’s preventive exam and DEXA by calling 972.560.2667 or visiting