Nima Wangdi

With the introduction of bone densitometry services at the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) in Thimphu, Bhutanese people will now be able to measure bone mineral content and density.

Bone densitometry, also known as Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA scan), will determine whether a person’s bones are weak or at risk of fracture.

The service was introduced on April 18.

A press release from the hospital stated that it is proud to have the long-awaited service introduced despite continuing pandemic.

The bone densitometry unit is an addition to the existing six imaging units in the radio-diagnosis and imaging and biomedical engineering division.

The press release stated that determining whether a person has osteoporosis as early as possible is important to prevent the condition from becoming worse. “It also reduces the risk of fractures.”

It stated that the results of the scan could help a doctor determine whether treatment is necessary for osteoporosis and help monitor the effectiveness of treatment.

According to the press release, women who are above 65 years and men above 70 years should have a DEXA scan according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. “The ideal frequency of scans may vary depending on the results. People receiving treatment for osteoporosis may require a scan every one or two years.”

It stated that women who are postmenopausal but younger than 65, who also have risk factors for low bone density, such as steroid medication use or low body weight, should also have the scan.

The press release stated that the patients may avail bone densitometry services only on the recommendation of the treating physicians. “The patients do not need to prepare before they have a DEXA scan. They can eat and drink normally on the day of the procedure.”

It claimed that the scan is painless and relatively quick, taking up to 30 minutes. “The DEXA scan is safe for most people.”

It, however, stated that because it uses X-ray energy, there is exposure to radiation. “People who are pregnant should talk with their doctor, who may advise them not to have the test,” the press release stated.

It was learnt that the machine was made in France.