Bone Mineral Densitometry (BMD)/DEXA & QCT scanning

What is bone mineral densitometry?

Bone Mineral Densitometry (BMD) is an imaging technique that uses x-rays to acquire images that are specifically used to measure the density of bones. As the x-rays pass through the bone they create different densities on an imaging plate. These densities and therefore the amount of x-rays that reach the plate are used to analyse the density of the bone they have passed through.

At Southern Radiology we offer 2 bone mineral densitometry tests: DEXA scans and QCT scans.

The bone mineral content or density can be used by your doctor to predict the loss of calcium in your bones (pending or existing osteoporosis).

BMD is typically performed on the lumbar spine (lower vertebrae) and femoral neck (hip bone). On some occasions the forearm can be imaged if required.

Preparation – What to do before a BMD scan.

There is no preparation required for a BMD scan.

At Southern Radiology you will require an appointment for a BMD scan. If you have had other imaging procedures in the last week or require these please inform our secretarial staff when making your appointment. You may be required to delay your appointment until any contrast has dissipated or schedule tests in a preferred order for optimal results.

Please advise our staff if you have had a hip replacement or implants in your lower spine.

If you are pregnant it is imperative to advise our staff of this before entering the exam room. BMD testing is contraindicated during pregnancy.

For all examinations we ask that you bring along any previous BMD scans or related results. For progress and comparative studies we recommend that you have your BMD using the same method and preferably at the same practice. The use of the same scanner can assist in minimising the variables affecting results.

At Southern Radiology we require a request from a referring doctor before undertaking medical imaging examinations. Please ensure you bring your referral with you to your appointment.

For billing purposes please bring your Medicare card.

The procedure – What happens during an x-ray?

The exact procedure for any medical imaging examination depends on what is being imaged and why.

Although there will be slight variations in what you can expect when you attend a Southern Radiology practice for an x-ray, as a general guideline:

  • You will need to register with our secretarial staff upon arrival
  • You may be required to fill out some medical history paperwork before we can commence your test
  • You may be asked to change into a gown
  • For the x-ray itself you will be asked to lie on a table (DEXA or CT scan table). The technician will then position you
  • You will be asked to remain still for the scan
  • Your attending radiographer will explain and discuss all aspects of your scan with you .Your consent will be sought prior to commencing the examination

How long can I expect to be at Southern Radiology?

The duration of your visit includes the time it takes to:

  • register your details
  • complete medical history paperwork
  • prepare for your test
  • complete your scan
  • collect your films

BMD scans take 10-15 minutes but we advise you allow 30 minutes for your appointment.

Is it safe?

X-rays are a form of ionising radiation. All radiation is cumulative and has associated risks that cannot be avoided. X-rays are only performed where it is deemed the benefit of the examination will outweigh any potential risks. The x-rays used for BMD scanning are considered relatively low dose and there are no known cases of these scans having harmful effects.


Southern Radiology is a leading diagnostic imaging provider who is committed to providing prompt and professional care to both patients and referrers. We are one of the largest medical imaging providers servicing the southern, inner western and eastern suburbs of Sydney and led by our specialist diagnostic imaging radiologists, Southern Radiology provides you comprehensive diagnostic support across all imaging modalities.

Our services include diagnostic radiology, interventional radiology, cardiac CT, magnetic resonance imaging, nuclear medicine and obstetric and gynaecological imaging. The Southern Radiology network consists of private community and hospital based practices, as well as two imaging research facilities.

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