DEXA Scanner


A new £80,000 DEXA (Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry) scanner has been installed at Westmorland General Hospital (WGH). It replaces an older, less up to date scanner at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary.  After consulting with our patients and the public, and considering all the options very carefully, we decided to locate the new scanner at WGH.

What is a DEXA Scanner used for?

The DEXA scanner is a type of X-ray that identifies conditions such as osteoporosis (weak bones) by measuring bone mineral density.

 DEXA scanners are used to help diagnose bone-related health problems, such as osteoporosis, or to assess the risk of getting them.

As well as being quick and painless, a bone density scan is more effective than normal X-rays in identifying low bone density. Unlike ordinary X-rays, DEXA scans can measure tiny reductions in bone density. This makes it possible to diagnose osteoporosis in its early stages, before you break a bone.

What happens during the scan?

When you have a DEXA scan, you lie on your back on a flat, open X-ray table. You do not go into a tunnel or have an injection. During the scan, a large scanning arm will be passed over your body to measure your bone density. The scan usually takes 10 to 20 minutes. You'll be able to go straight home after you have had it done.

How safe are bone density (DEXA) scans?

Bone density scans are very safe. They use a much lower level of radiation than standard X-rays. Despite being very safe, bone density scans and X-rays are not recommended for pregnant women, as X-rays can damage an unborn child.


A bone density scan compares your bone density with the bone density of a healthy adult of your own age, gender and ethnicity.  On the basis of your scan results, and your individual risk factors, your doctor will decide if you need any further treatment.

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Updated October 2019


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