Bone Densitometry (DEXA)

Bone densiometry (or DEXA) is an enhanced form of x-ray technology that measures bone mineral density and determines the strength of bones. Certain medical conditions and medications can lead to a loss of bone density and osteoporosis, which is a gradual loss of calcium as well as structural changes. Bones become thinner, more fragile and more likely to break. As a doctor, you may wish to establish a baseline bone density for a patient, to determine any need for treatment or specialist assessment.

Medicare provides a rebate for medical conditions and symptoms it deems most relevant to bone densitometry studies, to enable a significant portion of the population inexpensive access. Depending on the medial conditions and symptoms, Medicare will only give a rebate for one scan in any two-year period. If your patient has had a scan during the last two years, please ask your patient to call a South Coast Radiology practice to discuss what options are available.

Bone densitometry is performed at the following South Coast Radiology locations:

  • Robina
  • Runaway Bay
  • Southport – Gold Coast Surgery Centre
  • Tweed Heads
  • Varsity Lakes

Before the scan

The patient will be asked a series of questions to determine if Medicare’s criteria for a rebate are met. If the patient answers “no” to all of the questions on the form, he or she unlikely to qualify.

There is no preparation required for bone densitometry.

During the scan

The scan is straightforward and painless. The patient will be asked to lie on a padded couch and keep very still for up to 25 minutes.

The radiation dose will depend on the study performed. However, the technologist will use the lowest dose necessary to achieve high quality images.

After the scan

A follow-up scan is usually performed every one to two years to determine the success of the treatment.

The patient can resume normal activities after the bone densitometry. Patients will be advised before they leave the department if there are any instructions to follow.

One of our radiologists will interpret the bone density scan and provide a comprehensive report about the findings. We will advise patients to return to the doctor who referred them, to discuss the results.

If you are a registered referrer you can access your patient’s digital x-rays, scans and reports through our secure online archival system, or view the films we provide. For more information about registering to access patient images visit the Access Medinexus Portal section.

Any hardcopy images and report can generally be delivered to the referrer, by lunchtime on the next working day. If the patient needs to be reviewed on the day of the scan, the patient can wait for the DEXA images and we will fax or email the results to the referring doctor.

For more information about DEXA funding criteria visit the Medicare funding criteria section.