Does a Novice Technician Produce Results Similar to That of an Experienced DXA Technician When Assessing Body Composition and Bone Mineral Density?

Carl Persson, Flinn Shiel, Mike Climstein, James Furness

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Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry is a commonly used clinical assessment tool for body composition and bone mineral density, which is gaining popularity in athletic cohorts. Results from body composition scans are useful for athletic populations to track training and nutritional interventions, while bone mineral density scans are valuable for athletes at risk of developing stress fractures due to low bone mineral density. However, no research has ascertained if a novice technician (accredited but not experienced) could produce similar results to an experienced technician. Two groups of recreational athletes were scanned, one by an experienced technician, one by a novice technician. All participants were scanned twice with repositioning between scans. The experienced technician's reliability (intraclass correlation coefficient = .989-.998; percentage change in mean = -0.01 to 0.10), precision (typical error as coefficient of variation percentage = 0.01-0.47; SEM% = 0.61-1.39), and sensitivity to change (smallest real difference percentage = 1.70-3.85) were similar; however, superior to those of the novice technician. The novice technician results were reliability (intraclass correlation coefficient = .985-.997; percentage change in mean = -0.03 to 0.23), precision (typical error as coefficient of variation percentage = 0.03-0.75; SEM% = 1.06-2.12), and sensitivity to change (smallest real difference percentage = 2.73-5.86). Extensive experience, while valuable, is not a necessary requirement to produce quality results when undertaking whole-body dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scanning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism
Issue number4
Early online date11 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019


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