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Body Composition Testing

Body Composition General Information

Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry is quickly becoming the new "gold standard" in body composition testing because of its low dose, speed, ease of application, and superior reproducibility.

A Body Composition examination is a very simple, yet important test. It involves no injection and is performed by a specially trained technologist. The examination is conducted with the patient lying face upwards and takes approximately 20 minutes.

Body Composition testing is a very important tool for health professionals. The system's software provides direct calculation of total fat and lean and bone tissue based on information provided by the DEXA scan. Customized regions of interest can be analysed for body composition results. Patients can then be informed of potential health risks and/or be better directed in their dietary and physical activity.

Certain tests interfere with the results of bone density and body composition studies. If you have had x-ray tests using contrast or nuclear medicine tests done recently, please inform our office when you schedule your appointment.

Body Composition Preparation and Procedure

  1. If there is any possibility that you may be pregnant postpone the scan until pregnancy is ruled out.
  2. In the 24 hours preceding your scan do not take any vitamins, calcium supplements, or antacids.
  3. Certain tests interfere with the results of bone density and body composition studies. If you have had X-ray tests using contrast or Nuclear Medicine tests done recently, please inform our office when you schedule your appointment.
  4. Before the exam, you will be asked to remove any jewellery or metal objects.
  5. You will then be given a medical gown to be worn over your underwear during the procedure.
  6. One of our trained technicians will then assist you to our scanning room.
  7. Height and weight are measured and entered along with some personal information into the DEXA computer.
  8. A technician will assist and secure you, face up, onto the bed of the DEXA machine.
  9. For accurate results, it is important for the patient to lie still with arms and legs tucked close to the body.
  10. Depending on your body type, the DEXA scan will last between 5-10 minutes.
  11. During the scan, the state of the art GE Lunar Prodigy Dual Energy X-ray absorption (housed safely in an overhanging projector) to measure the bone and soft tissue of your entire body.
  12. Immediately upon completion, our technician will provide you with a print out of your results, and forward a copy to your physician if necessary.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why test body composition?

Growing research has demonstrated strong links between Body Composition and potential health risks such as:
  • heart disease
  • type II diabetes
  • high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • stroke
  • certain types of cancer

What's the difference between weight and body fat in terms of health risks?

Weight measurement alone cannot accurately determine a person's body fat and percentage and the resulting health risks. New evidence indicates that fat loss, not weight loss can extend lifespan.

Why is Dexa considered the "gold standard" in body composition measurement?

Dexa is one of the most accurate clinical determinations of body composition and fat free mass. Its results have been validated through repeated scientific study and it is against which other clinical and field method results are evaluated. Quite simply, it is the benchmark for accuracy that other techniques attempt to attain.

What makes Dexa the method of choice for health care professionals and patients alike?

Accurate results and ease of use. Other available examinations of body fat and composition lack the impressive combination of accurate, diverse measurements and simple, comfortable procedure boasted by Dexa Body Composition testing.

What are the alternatives to DEXA?

  1. Height - Weight Tables: This method was originally developed to establish recommended weight ranges based on mortality among large populations. The studies do not currently represent an accurate cross-section of the population and, thus, lack validity.

  2. Body Mass Index (BMI): BMI is a simple calculation that determines height to weight ratios. It is a widely accepted method of obesity, but is often quite misleading in its results. Guidelines do not distinguish for gender, ethnicity or age and do not distinguish obesity or leanness for individuals who are extremely muscular.

  3. Anthropometry (Skin-fold Measurements): Generally speaking, skin-fold measurements are an inexpensive, easy, and portable method of body fat examination. However, results are very subjective as precision depends on the skill of the caliper technician, the site measured, and the quality of the calipers themselves.

  4. Hydrodensitometry (Water Weighing): This technique involves first weighing a person under normal circumstances, then immersing them totally in water and weighing them again. Based on the fact that the densities of bone and muscles are greater than water and that fat is less dense than water, body density and body fat percentage can be calculated using standardized formulas. Despite its "gold standard" status, hydrodensitometry has several shortcomings. In some cases, athletes for example, denser than normal bones and muscles may lead to an underestimation of body fat percentage. In other cases, such as elderly patients suffering from osteoporosis, body fat may be overestimated. Additionally, many people find this method difficult, cumbersome, and uncomfortable; others are afraid of total submersion or cannot expel all the air in their lungs (an accuracy requirement of hydrodensitometry).

  5. Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA): This method calculates body fat, fat free mass, hydration level, and other body composition values by passing a small electrical signal through the body. Impedance to the signal is greatest in fat tissue, while fat free mass allows it to pass much more easily. Hydration plays a large role in BIA calculations and levels outside the normal range can cause inaccurate results. Dehydration, which can be caused by not drinking enough fluids, drinking too much caffeine or alcohol, exercising or eating before testing, certain prescription drugs, illness or a woman's menstrual cycle, often causes fat tissue to be overestimated by BIA. (Bioelectrical Impedance)

Is Dexa Safe?

Yes, Dexa is a perfectly safe and harmless examination. The scanner emits a very low dose of radiation, which, in fact, is less than a daily dose from natural sources (cosmic radiation + environmental isotopes in our bodies and surroundings). Furthermore, Dexa produces 50 times less radiation than a standard x-ray examination. The procedure is relatively quick and only requires the patient to lie still on his/her back while the machine performs its functions.

Body Composition Cost Breakdown

DEXA Body Composition testing by itself is not currently covered by most Medical Insurance Plans. However, Prime Healthcare Providers is pleased to offer this service privately at a cost of $100.

However, TOTAL BODY DEXA and Bone Mineral Density testing can be billed to most insurance companies if clinically indicated.

Prime Healthcare Providers is pleased to offer DEXA Body Composition testing at the following clinic location:
Memorial Hermann - Memorial City Hospital
Professional Building 1
902 Frostwood, Suite 262
Houston, Texas 77024
713 932 0118

Please contact us to book an appointment.

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