What is a DEXA Total Body Composition Test?

  • Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) is the gold standard for measuring body fat
  • This test measures one’s body fat & gives a 3 dimensional measurement of:  Fat Tissue Mass (Subcutaneous Fat & Internal Visceral Fat), Lean Muscle Mass and Total Body Mineral Content (Total Skeletal Mass & Bone Density)
  • It is safe, simple, & painless
  • The patient lies on a table on their back for 6 – 12 minutes - a small x-ray scanner called a densitometer takes a picture of the total body - The patient breathes normally but should remain still
  • The radiation from this test is minimal - one/twentieth of a chest x-ray. In simpler terms, it is less than a one-way flight from Toronto to Vancouveror less than a daily dose of natural background radiation
  • Our centre has the cutting edge technology: The Lunar Prodigy Advance Machine by GE. The only direct digital bone density machine with the latest advancements in densitometry science that is both accurate and precise for total body (total fat, lean, and bone tissue), spine, hip, forearm assessments
The goal to preventing your body from excessive or inadequate amounts of fat that can lead to serious health risks is to be proactive.  Measuring your weight on the scale or using traditional BMI are inaccurate, the only way to know your true body fat is by having the gold standard DEXA assessment!
Download "My Body Composition Test" Brochure

Why is DEXA the gold standard to measure body fat?

DEXA uses a 3-Dimensional model to measure body fat. It divides the body into fat tissue mass (subcutaneous fat & internal visceral fat), lean muscle mass and total body mineral content (total skeletal mass & bone density). The total body scan shows the skeleton & soft tissue. It gives a direct measurement of the percent body fat for the entire body as well as sub regions. It can show the muscle, fat & bone in grams for the entire body as well as per the arms, legs & trunk. The total body composition test looks at the distribution of fat using the android (waist) to gynoid (hip) ratio. Carrying too much fat in the wrong areas can increase your chance of serious health problems. Men with waist to hip ratio of > 1 & women with ratio > 0.8 have increased risk of cardiovascular illness. Having an apple shaped body (excess fat around abdomen, trunk and inside the abdominal cavity) can increase one’s risk for diabetes & heart disease. Pear-shaped body types (excess fat around hips, thigh & buttocks) are less prone to harmful illness. This accurate & precise technique actually shows how much fat you are losing. Total Body Composition Scans provide far more complete and precise information that can help support diagnoses and guide treatment, and can even help athletes make decisions on the training regimens they use to achieve the best performance.

What are the advantages of measuring your body fat using DEXA technology?

DEXA boasts accuracy, reproducibility, safety, speed and simplicity. No other technique can match the results obtained from DEXA. Measurements of body composition help show how lean mass and body fat change during health and disease.

Why is DEXA better than other methods of measuring body fat?

  • Skin calipers: Measures only fat under the skin, high likelihood of technical error, not good for lean or obese people
  • Bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA): High rate of false positive and false negative results, too many variables to control
  • Underwater Weighting: Being submerged in water requires heavy equipment and is time consuming
  • Bod Pod: Only a two dimensional reading based on air displacement, not readily available, very expensive
  • CT: Very high dose of radiation and expensive, not readily available for body fat measurement
  • MRI: Extremely expensive, not readily available for body fat measurement

Why is DEXA such an important tool in determining health risks?

Body weight alone is not a clear indicator of good health because it does not distinguish how many pounds are fat and how many are lean body mass. It is not the amount of weight measured but the amount of fat in the body that is potentially dangerous to health. Excessive body fat is a serious health risk & can increase one’s risk for diabetes, heart disease, cholesterol, hypertension, gout, joint disease, musculoskeletal problems, cancer, gall bladder disease, sleep apnea & respiratory distress. Inadequate amounts of body fat can lead to malnutrition, osteoporosis, or anorexia. The body needs a certain amount of fat to regulate our body temperature, insulate our internal organs and provide our body’s energy storage.

What are the contraindications for the DEXA scan?

  • We cannot do the test if you are pregnant.
  • If you had a dye (contrast media) injected from a CT or MRI procedure; any GI series; a barium study; or a radioisotope injection in the past week, please reschedule in 3 weeks time as these substances may interfere with the test results

Is the DEXA scan covered by insurance?

You will have to contact your insurance provider regarding coverage. If you have a healthcare spending account, the cost may be reimbursed.

Is the radiation from the scan harmful?

DEXA Scans are extremely low in exposure, less than a flight from Toronto to Vancouver and less than natural background radiation for the day!

How does metal inside the body affect the DEXA scan?

Metal inside the body will be added as bone and will be consistent from scan to scan and comparative results will be valid.

How do breast implants affect the DEXA scan?

Implants will lean out DEXA measurements;  they will decrease the body fat.  If the implant is filled with silicone, the body fat will be impacted more than if the filler material is saline.  As long as the implants remain in the body, the results can be compared.  If the implants are removed, a new baseline scan would be required.

How does hydration affect the scan?

It is best to have normal hydration levels for the scan.  Water is not fat or bone mineral content and is thus added to lean tissue.  If one is extremely dehydrated or fasting for long periods prior to the scan, then this can reduce the total lean tissue values.  If one is extremely hydrated, then this can increase the lean tissue values.

How do I make an appointment?

Please email us at totalbodydexa@gmail.com or call our office at 416-405-8881

Where are you located?

855 Broadview Ave, Suite 305, Toronto, ON M4K 3Z1

What are our business hours?

Monday–Thursday 9:30 am to 4:30 pm;
Friday 9:30 am to 1 pm & specific Saturdays

Do I need a physician referral for the DEXA body composition scan?

No, our in house physician does the prescribing for the scan.