A DEXA scan is used specifically to assess a patient's risk of fracture by detecting osteoporosis of the vertebral bodies, which is a thinning of the bones as we age and a possible source of back pain.

A DEXA scan takes about ten minutes and is associated with minimal radiation exposure.

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Low energy X-rays are passed through the bones to measure the mineral (calcium) content of the bones. If the patient is osteoporotic and has a significant risk of fracturing a vertebral body, osteoporosis medications can be prescribed to reduce their risk.