What is a DXA SCAN Body Composition Test?

  • DXA (DEXA as some people refer to it as), uses 2 different weak, very low dose x-ray waves to see into the body. DXA stands for Dual X-Ray Absorptiometry.

How does the radiation exposure compare to that a Chest X-Ray or Dental X-Rays?

  • The DXA x-ray is 1/20 that of a chest x-ray, and considerably less than even dental x-rays. In fact the amount of radiation is negligible and comparable to the background radiation that you receive while on a long plane flight or working out in the yard on a sunny day. For more information on this, refer to the page on Facility and Equipment.

What information will I receive from the DXA Body Composition?

  • Your reports will include the following test information and reports:
  1. Total Lean Weight (LBW) which includes bone mineral content and lean muscle
  2. Total Body Fat (fat mass), which includes essential fat (eFat) , and stored adipose fat (sFat) to LBW and fat data for each  body region (Each extremity, trunk, waist / hip, etc). You will know your body fat distribution and associated health risks Visceral Fat Score attributed to certain fat distribution and fat storage patterns.
  3. Ideal weight based upon your body composition data (Not your height / weight )
  4. Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and Total Daily Calorie Expenditure based up body composition data.
  5. Whole Body Map picturing Bone, Muscle, Fat, and fat deposits indicating where you carry your fat and associated health Risks, if any.

My gym offers Skin Calipers and Bod Pod. Why would I want to have a DXA Body Comp instead?

  • The DXA is the reference gold standard that all other techniques measure against. It is superior to skin calipers, Whole Body Plethysmography (Bod Pod), Hydrostatic Weighing, Electrical Impedance, and Body Mass Index (BMI). All other techniques use a 2 compartment model (FAT MASS and OTHER MASS - Fat Free Mass). DXA is a 3 compartment model,measuring the volume, density and weight of all tissues including bone, muscle and fat. DXA accuracy is rated at 98.5 + percent. DXA, by looking at all regions of the body, yields more data, as is detailed in the above answer on the comprehensive reports that you will receive.

Does the DXA Measure ALL FAT? Isn’t some FAT necessary for your health?

  • Because the DXA sees into your body and measures ALL tissue (which other methods cannot do), the measured Fat Mass will be higher than other techniques. The total fat mass measurement includes essential core fat (e Fat) needed for healthy bodily functions, as well as stored adipose fat (s Fat). e Fat is found in bodily organs, cell membranes, central and peripheral nervous systems, bone marrow, structural cushioning and insulation of organs, and even muscles.

Does my Ideal Weight take into consideration that I should not lose Essential FAT?

  • When considering Ideal Weight, e Fat should be subtracted out so that the body weight goal targets stored adipose fat (the excess visceral and subcutaneous fat energy that we accumulate by eating too much and exercising too little). Basically, the only time that excess stored FAT becomes essential to you is when your small plane goes down in the wilderness of Alaska, you have no food, and you live off of stored adipose fat energy reserves to stay alive until you are rescued. Not a scenario for most people, that would justify carrying more fat than ideal weight would indicate.

Will the DXA Whole Body Bone Density Screen tell me whether I have Osteopenia or Osteoporosis?

  • If you elect to also have the Whole Body Bone Density Screen done at the same time as the Body Composition Scan, you will receive a Whole Body Bone Density Value which is devrived from assessment of every area  in the body (Thoracic Spine, Lumbar Spine, Pelvis, Left Leg and Foot, Right Leg and Foot, Left Rib Cage, Right Rib Cage, Left Arm and Hand and Right Arm and Hand. The Whole Body Bone Density Screen  yields a summary Bone Density Value based upon all of the bones in the body.
  • It also gives a T-Score,  and if it is low,  it would be recommended that you consult your physician and have a World Health Organization (WHO) Medical DXA Bone Density Scan. This test specifically analyzes only the lumbar spine and hip because these are the common areas that are at risk for fracture when Osteoporosis is present. The Whole Body Bone Density Screen is actually more comprehensive than the WHO Medical Bone Density Scan because it evaluates all bones in the body, but it is not used for medical diagnosis.


If I have metal in my body, such as a plate or screws can I still take the test?

  • Yes, you can be tested. This is NOT like an MRI, where you cannot be tested with metal. Metal will show up as a white spot, and be more dense because the x-ray cannot penetrate it, as it does body tissue. There will be a small error on whole body density as a result, but this will remain constant for repeat tests.

Will you be able to compare my results to my prior DXA tests or make comparisons to a population data base?

  • All re-test data is compared against your prior tests, so that you can determine whether you are making progress with your nutrition and exercise program. It will actually show you where on your body that you are losing FAT and gaining LBW. We also give you percentiles of where you compare with your gender and aged matched groups, from a data base consisting of thousands of Americans who have been DXA Tested.

How much time do I need to allow for my appointment?

  • Please arrive 10 minutes before your appointment. The test will take about 15 minutes, including the 6 minute scan. After the test, it will take 10 – 15 minutes to calculate the results, which will then take approximately 15 - 20 minutes to review with you. The entire appointment will be about 45 + minutes.

Is there a Height or Body Weight Limit for the test?

  • The table has a weight limit of 450 lbs. Generally, a height of 76 to 77 inches is the upper limit for height, even though we can make accommodations to test taller individuals.

How should I dress for the test? Do I have to wear minimal clothing, a bathing suit, or a swim cap?

  • You take the test fully clothed. You should wear clothing that has no metal clips, grommets, zippers, belts, etc. You will need to remove any jewelry that you are able to. If there is irremovable bodily metal such as piercings, or implanted metal in the body, please state this to technician. For repeat tests, you should wear the same clothing as prior tests.

How much does the test cost?

  • Single Scan: $125
  • Add Whole Body Bone Density Screen to the above tests: $75

Will my health insurance pay for the DXA Body Composition Scan?

  • DXA Whole Body Composition Scans are not covered by insurance, private pay only. This is not covered by insurance, even when referred for DXA body comp scan by a physician.

What days of the week and hours would I be able to schedule a DXA Scan Body Composition Test?

  •  We schedule DXAs Monday - Thursday, during clinic hours.