What does this scan show?

The DXA, or “Dual X-ray Absorptometry”, is a quick and pain free scan that can tell you a lot about your body. It provides you with an in-depth analysis of your fat tissue, muscle mass and bone density.   

Here is an example analysis from a DXA scan

How it works

The DXA is a sleek, inconspicuous machine with an “arm” that branches out over the table that you lay on. Due to its open design patients can comfortably enjoy the test without feeling claustrophobic. It works by sending a low x-ray beam that accounts for two compositions within your body, one calculates soft tissue and the other calculates bone.


The main goal of the DXA is to provide you with an in-depth analysis of the main components of your body; fat, muscle and bone. After the scan, you will be given a multi-paged print out where you will see percentages, mass, and images accounting for the various data obtained.

How to prepare and what to expect

The great thing about the DXA scan is that it requires very minimal preparation. For more accurate results you should make sure you are well hydrated and not have any food in your stomach (at least 3 hours since your last meal). It is also important to not take calcium supplements 24 hours prior to your test to ensure accurate bone density readings.


Upon arriving at our medical office you will be greeted and taken back to meet with the licensed technologist who will perform your scan for you. After measuring your height and weight, you will be asked to lie down and get comfortable and the scan will begin. The scan takes 6 minutes.


Once the scan is over you will be able to sit down with the exercise specialist to go over your results. Your results will be explained to you and suggestions will be given according to goals that you have (i.e., lose fat, gain muscle, increase bone density). You will be able to keep your packet of results as a reference in the case that a follow up is desired in the future. Note: it is beneficial to do this scan every 3-6 months for body composition and every year if you are looking to modify something specific such as bone density.  

Who should take this test

Because this test gives so much detailed information regarding various components in your body, it is a scan that can be used for anyone. Athletes can get this scan done if they are curious to track their muscle mass as well as overall fat percentage. Due to its broad uses, the average person who is simply curious about their health could get this scan in order to gain insight regarding their body composition.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please contact us.  Phone: 916-734-6805  Email: hs-sportsperformance@ucdavis.edu