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My child is having a DEXA scan

Summary

DEXA scans produce x-ray images that measure the density of bones.
During a DEXA scan, the patient will lay on an exam table while an x-ray camera takes pictures.
The patient may be required to lay on their back and their side.
The scan takes around 20 minutes.

What is a DEXA scan?

DEXA stands for dual energy X-ray absorptiometry. The scan directs 2 low-strength X-ray beams at your child’s body, and a computer uses this data to calculate the density of their bones.

How can we prepare for the scan?

The scan room has a tracking hoist attached to the ceiling. If you child needs a hoist to be transferred, please make sure that they arrive with a sling in place.

You child cannot wear any zips, poppers or buttons made of metal when they come for their scan.

What happens in the scan?

The DEXA scan is done by a member of staff called a radiographer. The radiographer may ask your child to change into a hospital gown to make sure that their clothing does not show up on the scan. The radiographer will weigh your child and measure their height before the scan starts.

Your child will have to lie on the scanning bed. This is a wide, padded table that has a camera attached. The camera is positioned above your child and will move up and down the length of their body as it takes pictures. Your child will have to stay very still whilst the images are being taken.

Depending on the reason for the examination, your child may have 2 or 3 different scans done. Some scans will need your child to lie on their back, some will need them to lie on their side.

The whole scan will take around 20 minutes.

Other than them laying on the bed, nothing will touch your child and the procedure is painless.

Can I stay in the room?

If you would like to stay in the room during the scan, the radiographer will ask you to confirm that you are happy to do so and that you are not pregnant.

If you are pregnant, the radiographer will explain the risk of the radiation to the unborn baby, and you will have to wear a protective lead apron. If you are not pregnant, the amount of radiation is low enough that a lead apron is not necessary. The radiographer may ask you to stay in the room to help keep your child still.

Are there any risks?

Although the scanner does use radiation, the amount that your child will be exposed to is kept as low as possible. The amount of radiation used is much lower than the amount of radiation from an X-ray, and it is not large enough to pose any risk to you or your child.

How do we get the results?

If you are having the test done as part of a clinic visit you will receive the results when you see the doctor in clinic.

If you have attended the scan as an appointment, you will receive the results at the next appointment with the doctor that requested the scan.

Summary

DEXA scans produce x-ray images that measure the density of bones.
During a DEXA scan, the patient will lay on an exam table while an x-ray camera takes pictures.
The patient may be required to lay on their back and their side.
The scan takes around 20 minutes.

Contact us

If you have any questions about the procedure, please telephone the Radiology Department on 0114 271 7389 and ask to speak to a DEXA radiographer.

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Disclaimer

Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

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Radiology Department

Sheffield Children’s Hospital

Western Bank

S10 2TH

0114 271 7389

Summary

DEXA scans produce x-ray images that measure the density of bones.
During a DEXA scan, the patient will lay on an exam table while an x-ray camera takes pictures.
The patient may be required to lay on their back and their side.
The scan takes around 20 minutes.

NHS

Western Bank
Sheffield
S10 2TH

United Kingdom

Switchboard: 0114 271 7000

Interesting Facts


We’ve got a special MRI scanner just for teddies so children can see what it’s like before they have a scan.

Help to transform our extraordinary hospital into something even better.

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