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Bone Density Examinations: Indicators, Imaging, and Reporting with DXA and Ultrasound

Amy Morris, RT(R)

Radiologic Technologist, Jackson, Mississippi.
Address correspondence to: Amy Morris, RT(R), VA Medical Center, 1500 E Woodrow Wilson Avenue, Jackson, MS 39216. E-mail: morris.ammy@gmail.com.

Disclosures: Ms Morris reports having no financial or advisory relationships with corporate organizations related to this activity.

ABSTRACT

Osteoporosis is a skeletal disease that occurs as a result of a decrease in bone density, causing bones to become weak and brittle. As a result, even day-to-day activities can lead to fragility fractures. Often, osteoporosis is not diagnosed until a patient experiences such a fracture. Due to the serious complications that frequently arise from fractures, early diagnosis of osteoporosis and fracture prevention are key areas of clinical focus. For patients at risk, a bone density examination can determine the status of the patient's bone structure so that the clinician can implement appropriate interventions. The types of bone density examination most commonly used are dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), quantitative computed tomography, and quantitative ultrasound. Each method has advantages and disadvantages. Although DXA and quantitative computed tomography both scan the hips and lumbar spine, each examination measures bone structures differently. With either method, the technologist must understand factors that can impact overall results and recognize the areas of bone that are affected by the disease process.

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