Bone Density (DEXA) Test

Keep an eye on your bone health with bone density testing at Johnston Health. A bone density test can show if you’re among the 25 million Americans with osteoporosis, so you can start treatment to strengthen your bones.

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis, or bone loss, happens when the bones lack enough calcium and protein. This can make bones weak and fragile, and cause pain. While bone loss is common in women after menopause, it can also affect men and younger women.

What is a Bone Density Test?

A bone density scan uses dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) to measure bone loss. Your test at Johnston Health in Smithfield will examine the spine and hips—common places where fragile bones break.

What to Expect

To help the machine take clear pictures, you may need to change into a hospital gown. You must remove jewelry, dental hardware, eyeglasses, or other metal objects that could get in the way of your images.

Then, you’ll lie on an exam table while the DEXA machine takes X-rays.

The test takes 30 minutes.

How to Prepare

Follow these guidelines:
• Don’t take calcium supplements for 24 hours before your test
• Eat normally the day of the exam
• Bring a list of your current medications and their dosages to the appointment


A radiologist will review your images and send a report to your doctor who ordered the test. You’ll get a call from your doctor’s office to discuss the results and next steps.

To check your results in our secure, online patient portal, visit My UNC Chart.

Talk to Your Doctor

If your doctor orders an imaging procedure at UNC Health Johnston, you’ll get a call from Community Wide Scheduling to make an appointment.

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