Bone Densitometry

A bone density scan (which is fully bulk-billed to eligible patients) is the method of choice used by doctors for determining your risk of osteoporosis in the future.

Information About Your DEXA Scan

To detect osteoporosis accurately, an enhanced form of x-ray technology called dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA or DEXA) is used. This is a quick painless procedure for measuring bone loss.

The procedure is very simple, and normally takes twenty minutes. During the scan the patient lies on their back on the bed and machine will pass over. It does not involve being in a tunnel, nor does the machine sit over your head. There is no injection and you will not experience any side effects. Measurement of the lower spine and hips are most often done.

What Are Some Common Uses Of The Procedure?

DEXA bone densitometry is most often used to diagnose osteoporosis, a condition that often affects women after menopause, but may also be found in men. After the age of 60 years, 1 in 2 Australian women will sustain an osteoporotic fracture.

Osteoporosis involves a gradual loss of calcium, causing the bones to become thinner, more fragile and likely to break. The DEXA test can assess your risk for developing fractures, and can indicate if a treatment plan is necessary to help prevent fractures before they occur.

Who Is Eligible for a bulk billed scan?

i.e. No out of pocket expenses.

All patients who meet the Medicare criteria and everyone over the age of 70 receive a completely bulk billed Scan.

Medicare criteria for rebatable items

The referral should specify the indication for the test, for example:

  • One or more fractures occurring after minimal trauma.
  • Monitoring of low bone mineral density proven by bone densitometry T‹2.5.
  • Prolonged glucocorticoid therapy, e.g. Prednisolone.
  • Cushings disease.
  • Early menopause lasting more than 6 months before the age of 45.
  • Male hypogonadism.
  • Primary hyperparathyroidism.
  • Chronic liver disease.
  • Chronic renal disease.
  • Proven malabsorption disorders, e.g. Coeliac disease, Vitamin D deficiency.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Hyperthyroidism (Grave's disease).
  • To monitor response at least one year following a significant change in therapy.
  • 70 years of age or older.

If you feel you are at risk of osteoporosis and do not meet any of the above Medicare criteria, you can have a bone density test performed for the cost of $90.