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DEXA Scanning

Our DEXA scanner allows diagnosis of osteoporosis accurately.

About this service

Dexa Scanning or Imaging is a quick, painless procedure for measuring bone loss. It is particularly used to detect osteoporosis - when the bone becomes thinner and more prone to fracture.

Physicians use x-rays to view and evaluate bone fractures and other injuries of the musculoskeletal system. However, a plain x-ray test is not the best way to assess bone density. To detect osteoporosis accurately, doctors use an enhanced form of x-ray technology called dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA).

It is most often used to diagnose osteoporosis, with bone density measurements of the lower back and hips mainly taken. Scans can detect changes to the density.

We have been operating our DEXA scanner since October 2009.The DEXA scanner is located in Main X-ray at Warrington Hospital. Patients will need to book in at the main X-ray reception desk.

DEXA Unit 
Main x-ray 
Warrington Hospital

Telephone: 01925 662452

Waiting times are typically one to two weeks.

Warrington Hospital

Other Information & Downloads

DEXA bone densitometry is a simple, non-invasive procedure. Once on the table you may be asked to hold an awkward position for a short time while the arm of the machine passes over your body taking measurements. It is important that you stay as still as possible during the procedure to ensure a clear, useful image. No anaesthesia is required. The procedure is painless and radiation exposure is minimal.

The DEXA bone density test takes 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the equipment used and the parts of the body being examined. You may be asked to undress and put on a hospital gown. Then you'll lie on a padded table with an x-ray generator below and a detector (an imaging device) above. Most often, doctors focus on bone loss in the spine and hip where most osteoporosis-related fractures happen. The detector is slowly passed over the area, generating images on a computer monitor.

The results of a DEXA bone density exam are interpreted by a radiologist or radiographer, who is specially trained to diagnose conditions and diseases by obtaining and interpreting medical images and these results are then sent to the referring doctor. If you were referred by a hospital consultant your GP will also receive a copy of the report.

The test results will be in the form of two scores:

  • T score — this number shows the amount of bone you have compared with a young adult of the same gender with peak bone mass. A score above -1 is considered normal. A score between -1 and -2.5 is classified as osteopenia, the first stage of bone loss. A score below -2.5 is defined as osteoporosis. It is used to estimate your risk of developing a fracture.
  • Z score — this number reflects the amount of bone you have compared with other people in your age group and of the same size and gender. If it is unusually high or low, it may indicate a need for further medical tests.

Please contact us in advance of the scan using the informatin on your appointment letter if:

  • You have severe mobility problems 
  • Require oxygen
  • Have any metalwork (e.g. hip replacements, spinal screws or rods) in your hips or spine as this may affect the areas we are able to scan.
  • You are or think you may be pregnant.
  • The scanner has a weight limit of 120 kg. Please contact us if you exceed this weight.

As the procedure uses x-rays it is generally not advisable for anyone to be accompanied during the scan. The technician / radiographer will remain in the room at all times. However, if you have concerns please contact us.