BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Medical Policy Manual

Whole Body Dual X-Ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) to Determine Body Composition


Using low-dose x-rays of two different energy levels, whole body dual x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) measures lean tissue mass and total and regional body fat, as well as bone density. Measurements of body composition have been used to study how lean body mass and body fat change during health and disease. This has provided a research tool to study the metabolic effects of aging, obesity and various wasting conditions such as occurs with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) or post-bariatric surgery.




It is unclear how information regarding body composition could be used in the active medical management of an individual to improve health outcomes.


BlueCross BlueShield Association. Evidence Positioning System. (9:2018). Whole body dual x-ray absorptiometry to determine body composition (6.01.40). Retrieved October 30, 2018 from (12 articles and/or guidelines reviewed)

Imboden, M., Welch, W., Swartz, A., Montoye, A., Finch, H., Harber, M., et al. (2017). Reference standards for body fat measures using GE dual energy x-ray absorptiometry in caucasian adults. PLOS One, 12 (4), e0175110. (Level 4 evidence)

Rothney, M., Xia, Y., Wacker, W., Martin, F., Beaumont, M., Rezzi, S., et al. (2013). Precision of a new tool to measure visceral adipose tissue (VAT) using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Obesity. 21, Vol. 21, No. 1; E124-E126. (Level 4 evidence)

Swainson, M.,  Batterham, A., Tsakirides, C., Rutherford, Z., and Hind, K.(2017). Prediction of whole-body fat percentage and visceral adipose tissue mass from five anthropometric variables. PLOS One, 12 (5), e0177175. (Level 3 evidence)

U. S. Food and Drug Administration. (2007, June). Center for Devices and Radiological Health. 510(k) Premarket Notification Database. K071570. Retrieved January 9, 2012 from




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