Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"How long does a calcium scan take?"
I am claustrophobic and the thought of having a lengthy CT scan terrifies me. Is there any other way they can do this scan?
I assume by your question you are referring to the DEXA scan, a test of bone mineral density (how much calcium is in the bones). This test is an important part of the screening process for osteoporosis. The DEXA scan itself is a very short process. Although the machines used to do the test vary, it typically takes just a few minutes to do the test, and it typically does not involve the long tubes used for things like MRI scans. You can ask the technicians at the center you are planned to have the scan for more details about their specific machine, and you may ask you doctor to help you to find a center that has a machine that is more open if the one to which you have been referred is insufficient. The DEXA scan is a very important part of routine screening to maintain your health as an adult. It helps to detect osteoporosis, a disease characterized by low calcium levels in your bones which makes them more likely to fracture. There are medicines like calcium supplementation and bisphosphonates to treat osteoporosis to prevent fracture, which is why it is important to have it diagnosed early. The test is typically recommended for older adults, although your doctor may have a reason to obtain a screen at a younger age; you should talk to your doctor about her reasons for ordering the test to help determine if this is the right test for you.
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