Here at Rock Creek Wellness, we use the GE Lunar Prodigy for our DXA (Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry) scanning.
A DXA scan (formerly known as DEXA scanning) is used for a number of applications. This FDA approved bone density machine is the go to option for bone density and total body composition testing. DXA is so accurate and clinically proven, it has many applications in healthcare to diagnose and manage illnesses.
The DXA scan accounts for your body’s tissue variations and accurately measures:
- Fat Mass: including all the fatty tissue in the body, including fatty tissue found within the organs of the body (visceral fat), along with the subcutaneous fat located under the skin
- Lean Mass: the sum of all muscle and soft organ tissue
- Bone Mineral Content (BMC): the sum of all skeletal tissue within the body
- Bone Mineral Density (BMD): the amount of bone mineral content within a specific area
- Percent fat: the ratio of fatty tissue to total body tissue
- Regional Values: all of the above data but for individual regions, including arms, legs, and trunk (something no other measurement method can provide)
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It is a very low-dose x-ray. In fact, total radiation exposure is less than a daily dose from environmental sources. The DXA scan procedure is also relatively quick and generally takes less than seven minutes (depending on body size).
|Average daily background radiation||10|
|Flight to New York from LA||40|
|Mammogram (single scan)||400|
The individual being tested remains fully clothed and lies still in a supine position for the duration of the x-ray. At the end of the study, a technician will provide you with a printout of your results.
The body is composed of water, protein, minerals, and fat. Body composition is the body’s relative amount of fat to fat-free mass. Those with optimal body composition are typically healthier, move more easily and efficiently, and in general, feel better than those with less-than-ideal body composition. Achieving a more optimal body composition goes a long way toward improving your quality of life and overall wellness.
Body composition is divided into two separate types of mass: fat-free mass — which is comprised of all of the body’s non-fat tissues — and body fat. Fat-free mass includes bone, water, muscle, and tissues. Body fat is literally fat located within the body. Some fat is necessary for overall health; it helps protect internal organs, provides energy and regulates hormones that perform various functions in body regulation. However, when someone is overweight or obese, they have an excessive accumulation of body fat.
Body fat includes essential fats, such as lipids, and nonessential body fats; these fats make up around five percent of total body weight for men, and up to 12 percent for women. Nonessential fat is found mainly within fat cells and adipose tissue, below the skin and surrounding major organs. The amount of nonessential fat stored in the body is variable among individuals on factors such as age, gender, and diet. Excess nonessential fat can normally be attributed to consuming more food energy than what is burned through metabolic functions and activity.
Body fat percentage is the percentage of total body weight that is comprised of fat. Decreasing your body fat percentage, if it is too high, isn’t just about improving your appearance. A high percentage of body fat can have a negative effect on your overall well-being: Excess fat has been linked to numerous health problems such as increased risk for diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Having excess fat, specifically surrounding the internal organs, can damage your health and contribute to serious medical conditions such as liver disease.
Our bodies require essential fat because it serves as an important metabolic fuel for energy production and other normal bodily functions.
By knowing your body fat percentage, you can take measures to improve your health, increase lean body mass, lose body fat, keep track of changes over time to monitor progress and in the long run reduce your risk for diseases such as type II diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease.
Body Composition Analysis
A DXA (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) scan is considered the “gold standard” in clinical body composition analysis. No other test is as accurate in determining the percentage of body fat versus lean muscle mass and bone. Results from alternatives to DXA scanning that use electrical impedance (scales), skin fold measurements (calipers) and water displacement have a much lower level of accuracy and specificity.
Performing calculations alone using height and weight (Body Mass Index or BMI) can also be inaccurate. They are often misleading, as these measurements are not able to distinguish several factors: gender, age, and obesity or leanness of muscular individuals. Also, other instruments are not able to provide regional body fat values. DXA scan results have been validated through repeated scientific study and are reproducible.
The DXA total body composition scan is able to show a picture map of the body outlining skeletal bone mass, lean muscle mass and body fat mass location. The report not only gives you a picture map of your body composition, but it also provides you with precise readings for bone mass and weight, lean muscle mass and weight, and fat mass and weight broken down by regions. It also determines (with your exercise or diet program) where on the body you are losing or gaining weight, and whether it is fat or muscle. No other body fat test method or body composition measurement method is able to give detailed fat, muscle and bone mapping information.
DXA’s precision can measure relevant areas of body fat so you can identify potential future health risks. For males, higher android region fat is also correlated with lowered testosterone. When your body composition is tested using a DXA scan, you’re not only guaranteed one of the most accurate measures of body fat available, you gain valuable information that can be applied to improving your overall health and optimizing training and nutrition plans. By discovering exactly how much of your body mass is made up of fat—and where that fat is stored on your body—you can take the necessary steps to avoid many of the diseases that plague modern civilization.
Knowledge of your body’s specific fat distribution can tip you off to potentially serious health challenges in your future. The best way to illustrate this point is to examine two common body shapes found on the street today: the “apple” and the “pear.”
Android fat is the fat stored in the midsection of the body: predominantly in the abdomen, but also the fat stored in the chest and upper arms. This is a common fat-storage location among men and is associated with an “apple shape.” It’s consistently associated with increased risk of heart disease and diabetes, hormonal imbalances, some cancers, sleep apnea, and more.
Gynoid fat storage (i.e. the “pear shape”) is more common among women. This fat is stored primarily around the hips and thighs, and its storage is considered healthier—although some men with gynoid shapes may have hormonal imbalances. Overweight pear-shaped people tend to suffer from mechanical problems such as hip, knee and other joint issues due to an excess of fat (weight stress) on the lower half of their body.
There is also a third type of body shape, the Ovoid. Here there is no differentiation between men and women, with fat storage promoting an ‘egg shape’—the ovoid shape means general fat coverage. Too much fat anywhere is not good, so knowing your body’s distribution is critical to monitoring your health risks and avoiding disease later in life. A DXA scan will directly measure the different types of fat stored in every region of your body, including your subcutaneous fat (the fat under the skin), your visceral fat (fat around your organs — i.e. android fat), and it also takes into account your ‘essential fat‘ (i.e. fat that is necessary for normal bodily functioning, including hormonal production, secretion, transport, and reproduction).
Fat stored in the body (other than the essential fat) needs to be monitored, so action can be taken to limit or lose it and reduce your risk for disease.
Determining the ratio of android to gynoid fat (the A/G ratio)—and monitoring that ratio (you want it below 1.0)—is critical because it’s directly correlated to the prevalence of visceral fat, which is a result of organs insulating themselves from toxins by encapsulating the toxins in fat. This survival strategy may impede organ function and increase the risk for disease. Ideally, your android fat will always be lower than your gynoid fat.
A DXA scan eliminates this chance for error by directly measuring your android and gynoid fat percentages and displaying the A/G ratio on your report. This way, it’s easy for you to evaluate your risk for health problems associated with a high A/G ratio. The factors that influence fat distribution are partially controllable by you, and even the genetic factors can be mitigated too.
Bone Mineral Density (BMD) Analysis
Using the same DXA technology enables us to offer a BMD scan to assist physicians evaluate and assess a patient’s risk and status for osteopenia, a precursor to osteoporosis. Osteopenia is defined as BMD that is lower than normal peak (per World Health Organization’s standards), but not enough to be classified as osteoporosis. (DXA) is considered the most highly developed and most thoroughly validated technique for assessing bone mineral density, according to the World Health Organization’s report on the “Prevention and Management of Osteoporosis.” It can help you diagnose osteoporosis, predict fractures, and monitor response to treatment.
BMD is a measurement of the level of minerals in the bones. A high level of minerals decreases your risk of fractures. Having osteopenia increases your risk of developing osteoporosis later in life. This BMD scan will provide patients with a bone mineral count from the lumbar spine, dual femur, and/or other regions of the body, in addition to measuring bone loss.
A comprehensive report will be given to each patient immediately after completion of their scan.