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Bone Densitometer Options: Choosing a Pencil or Fan Beam DXA

The two different types of bone densitometers when considering one for your facility: Pencil Beam DXA, or Fan Beam DXA

Bone densitometers are used to test the density of bone, and to detect osteoporosis and bone fractures in patients. Bone densitometer scanning is also called DEXA scanning, and is the standard method for measuring bone mineral density (BMD).

Osteoporosis affects millions of people around the world, and it is estimated that one in two women and up to one in four men over the age of 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis.

The bone densitometer is a useful and specific machine that doesn’t get as much love as it deserves, but it’s important to be educated about the two different types of bone densitometers when considering one for your facility: Pencil Beam DXA, or Fan Beam DXA.

Pencil Beam

The Pencil Beam DXA was the first method used for bone densitometers. It uses a singular beam of X-Ray to produce an image. The Pencil Beam creates very precise scans, but the scans themselves take longer since it takes a while for the single beam to scan the entire body. For lower traffic facilities that plan to scan no more than 15 or so patients a day, the Pencil Beam is an excellent choice.

Fan Beam

The Fan Beam DXA (wide angle fan beam) hasn’t been around as long as the Pencil Beam method, having only been introduced in the early 2000’s. However, it has become a reliable option for practices that need to scan a heavy influx of patients as it provides much shorter scan times than the Pencil Beam. The Fan Beam uses multiple X-Ray beams to sweep across the body instead of just one, resulting in shorter scan times, but at the cost of minimal image distortion due to magnification of tissue.

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In addition to Pencil Beam and Fan Beam, the Narrow Angle Fan Beam also exists. It was created by GE Healthcare and is used exclusively for their Lunar Prodigy line. The Narrow Angle Fan Beam still uses multiple X-Ray beams to sweep across the body, but also uses multiple passes in order to garner more images. These images are then compiled in order to acquire the best pros of the Pencil Beam and Fan Beam machines: the crystal clear image quality and precision of the Pencil Beam, teamed with the speed of the Fan Beam.

Amber Diagnostics’ skilled experts can answer any questions you have regarding Pencil or Fan Beam Bone Densitometer’s and the variety of models available. If you’re in the market for a bone densitometer, look no further. We offer room/site planning and continued support throughout the entire process. Check out our Bone Densitometer Buyer’s Guide here, then contact us to get your refurbished DXA project started!


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Hologic Wi Bone Densitometer with Advance Body Composition

Hologic Horizon Wi

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