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What can I learn from a DEXA scan?

Last Modified: March 04, 2021

Bone density

This post was written by Sami Kauffman, MA, RD, CD, sports dietitian, Parkview Sports Medicine. She regularly conducts and consults on DEXA body composition scans at the Parkview Ortho Express.

A DEXA (dual energy x-ray absorptiometry) scan is a specialized x-ray that is the most accurate commercial body composition measurement available to the public. It’s the gold standard for determining body composition and is often used in medical research.

The scan provides a ton of data: full-body bone density, fat mass, lean mass, percentage of body fat, estimation of visceral fat and an estimation of your resting metabolic rate.

What to expect

When you go in for your DEXA scan, you will lie down flat on a table with your ankles and knees gently strapped together to align your lower body. The arm of the machine then slowly passes over your body, which takes roughly 5-10 minutes. It’s painless and you will not be confined to a small space like a traditional MRI.

Who can benefit

DEXA scans can provide valuable body composition and bone density information to many different people including:

  • Those looking to lose weight or gain muscle
  • Athletes who are trying to make tailored nutritional changes to boost performance
  • Athletes recovering from an injury
  • People who don’t currently have bone health issues, but want to monitor bone density

When I review DEXA scan results with our patients, I try to give them a snapshot of their bone density and body composition. In terms of bone health, we’ll discuss how current habits may be affecting bone density now or in the future. When it comes to body composition, I look for any indication that they could be at risk for an injury, such as muscle imbalances or weaknesses that may cause problems in whatever activities they participate in.

We’ll also review the level of visceral fat (a type of body fat stored within the abdominal cavity) and how it may indicate risks for disease in the future.


Our DEXA equipment is located inside the Parkview Ortho Express walk-in clinic at the SportONE/Parkview Fieldhouse. You can schedule an appointment by calling 260-266-4007 or you may simply walk in during normal business hours (7 a.m. – 7 p.m., Monday – Thursday and 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Friday). While walk ins are welcome, appointments are preferred for DEXA scans. A DEXA scan at Ortho Express costs just $25.

The scan takes 7-10 minutes and will be followed by a 10-minute consultation with me. Please wear comfortable clothes without metal and arrive 5-10 minutes early if you have scheduled an appointment.