DEXA Scans – What are they and do you need one?

June 21, 2019

Back last year when I was having my health issues, it was suggested to me that I should have a DEXA scan.
A DEXA scan is a dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry scan. It uses x-ray technology to determine the distribution of lean muscle, fat, water and bone in your body.
*This is a post about my own issues but is a collaborative post*

I was suffering from Hyperparathyroidism, which is where the parathyroid glands, which are in the neck near the thyroid gland, produce too much parathyroid hormone. This causes blood calcium levels to rise (hypercalcaemia). Left untreated, high levels of calcium in the blood can lead to a range of problems such as depression, tiredness, feeling thirsty and peeing a lot, feeling sick and losing your appetite, muscle weakness and many more

Drugged up on pain meds, finally getting some sleep

If left untreated, high blood calcium levels may cause vomiting, drowsiness, dehydration, bone pain or tenderness, and then bigger complications osteoporosis and bone fractures, kidney stones and blockage, and kidney damage or failure.

My Hyperparathyroidism was discovered when I passed out one morning. A blood test showed high calcium levels which were monitored for a few months while they tried to figure out what was causing it. Then, in December last year, I was admitted to A&E where I stayed for a couple of nights in absolute agony. I was having hot sweats and then violent shivers while writhing in pain every time the drugs wore off. It was discovered that I had actually grown a kidney stone measuring 9mm in a space of a month.

image shows a CT scan of kindeys
The white marks showing on my kidneys are calcification

I ended up having a stent fitted and then underwent surgery weeks later to have the stone broken down with lasers and then removed. Around the same time, I also had surgery to remove the parathyroid gland from my neck. In amongst weeks and months of appointments, check-ups, follow-ups and more, I was supposed to have a DEXA scan. Unfortunately, I missed the appointment and despite me asking to be re-referred, I am still waiting.
A DEXA Scan would have looked at my bone density to determine how much damage the hyperparathyroidism has caused to my bones and joints.

I know it has done a fair amount of damage. My hip joints hurt every day, more so in cold weather and I no longer have a full range of motion in my left hip. I have to lift my leg up with my hands to be able to put my socks on.

Today, I have another hospital appoint to check on the function of my kidney. I will again be asking to be re-referred for a DEXA scan and hopefully, I’ll be able to get them to listen. Wish me luck.

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