Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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What does DXA stand for?

DXA stands for Dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry.

Does a DXA scan hurt?

Getting a DXA scan is a painless, non-invasive procedure:

  • There are no injections or medications involved.
  • The procedure takes place in a private, child-friendly room.
  • DXA is an open machine - patients are not enclosed at any time.

How does the DXA scan work?

DXA uses two different photon energies, or X-ray beams, to measure soft tissue and bone. Currently, it is the most widely used method to measure bone mineral density.

While scanning, DXA directs alternating X-ray energy from two separate sources towards bone at a set frequency. These two sources of X-ray energy transmit bone density through a filter onto a photon counter that is part of the DXA machine. The greater the bone density, the stronger the signal picked up by the photon counter.


Did You Know?

You are exposed to more radiation when you fly to California than when you get a DXA scan!


How much radiation will I be exposed to when I get my DXA scan?

The dose of radiation used in a DXA scan depends on the type and number of scans you are having. However, for all scan types, the dose is very low.

Even for multiple scans, the dose is minimal when compared to the amount of natural background radiation the average person living in the United States is exposed to every day.

How many DXA scanners do you have?

Currently, we have one DXA scanner at Boston Children's:

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