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DXA3The Dunedin School of Medicine's Bone and Body Composition Research Unit (BBCRU), based in the Department of Medicine, offers body composition scans using DXA technology.

What is DXA and how does it work?

DXA stands for Dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry. The full-body scanner accurately calculates the composition of your body, including bone, lean muscle and fat tissue. This is accepted as the gold standard measure of body composition. The machine uses low-dose radiation to assess body composition. Originally developed for diagnosing bone density issues associated with osteoporosis, the same technology is a safe, quick and highly accurate way to measure and track your body composition.

  • Accurately track your fat mass and percentage
  • Identify regions you need to target
  • Safe, gold standard measure of body composition
  • Get information from highly trained research professionals

DXA scans are available in either Dunedin or Wellington.

Book your scan in Dunedin

Book your scan in Wellington

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What can DXA tell you about your body?

A DXA scan will give you much more information about your body than standing on a scale, looking in a mirror or calculating your BMI. The scan will give you an accurate calculation of your percentage body fat, fat mass, muscle mass, bone density, and how you compare to the rest of the population.

Unlike other measurement techniques, the scan provides not just total information but values for the different regions on your body. It will also help to identify muscle imbalances where certain limbs may be weaker or stronger following injuries or uneven training practices. DXA is also able to image the fat sitting around your important internal organs, known as visceral adipose fat (VAT), an important risk factor for diseases such as stroke and heart conditions.

What is involved in the procedure?

DXA1Your entire visit including scan and consultation will take approximately 20 minutes. We will ask you to get changed into hospital scrubs ensure there is no contamination of the signal. The trained technician will then ask you to lie down on the comfortable DXA platform while the scanning arm moves over the length of your body for about 10 minutes; the whole procedure is completely painless. Our experienced physiologists will then give you a report and explain all the technical values and lingo.

The radiation emitted by the DXA scanner is extremely low—much lower than a CT scan and roughly equivalent to the radiation absorbed from eating 11 bananas! However, due to the small amounts of radiation it is important that no scans are performed whilst pregnant.

Who should get a DXA scan and are there alternatives?

A DXA scan is ideal for individuals such as:

  • Athletes in training for a season or bouncing back from injury
  • Those interested in weight training who want to track growth in muscle mass
  • Anyone looking to lose weight or improve their long-term health

There are many alternatives for measuring body composition and all have advantages and disadvantages. These can range from skin fold tests, to impedance scales through to camera based calculation machines. These techniques have no radiation exposure and are often cheaper. The trade off is that they are less accurate and use calculations to estimate your body composition. Only DXA scans can image inside your body! Feel free to talk to our experienced physiologists about the different options that are available.

Please note that we cannot offer DXA scans to those who are pregnant

What does it cost?

An initial scan and consultation with our physiologist will cost NZ$150(+GST). Follow up scans can be performed for NZ$100(+GST) and will automatically track and compare your progress.

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