Mountaintop Medicine from Estes Park Health: Estes Park Health installs new DEXA machine

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Evelyn Wilson of Estes Park took an important step in protecting her bone health this month. She got a DEXA scan. DEXA stands for Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry. Simply put, it’s a quick and painless test using x-ray to help physicians monitor the density of your bones.

“It can be your primary, any doctor, an orthopedic doctor, even endocrinologists because they’re interested in thyroid labs and different labs that may leach your calcium from your bones and then distribute that calcium into your bloodstream,” explained Marcy Kimbro, a technologist who administered Wilson’s DEXA test. “We want to keep that calcium in the bone.”

Estes Park Health acquired a new DEXA machine in the fall of 2023, thanks to the efforts of Estes Valley women who took part in the Mrs. Rooftop Rodeo competition. The group raised a record-breaking amount of money in this year’s campaign and provided Estes Park Health with enough money to buy the machine and fund the service and maintenance contract.

“It really speaks to their motivation to support the hospital, to support the mission, and really to get it done and raise what we needed to raise to get the new machine,” said Dr. John Knudtson, EPH Radiologist. “When a group of women decide that they’re going to get this done, there’s nothing that’s going to stop them.”

The new DEXA – a GE Lunar machine – is used multiple times every day at Estes Park Health.

“The demand for DEXA scans here is quite high because we have a lot of patients who are at risk for bone density loss and yet they want to remain active and make sure they don’t have any problems with pathologic fractures or osteoporotic fractures that prevent them from doing the things that they want to do,” Knudtson added.

For Evelyn, the test made sense.

“It was recommended by my doctor,” she said. “I’m guessing because of my age. I know especially in women that we tend to shrink a little bit and our bones do get more fragile. And small things like falls and whatnot can make a big difference. I just want to be proactive about it.”

This is Evelyn’s first time to get a DEXA exam. It can be used as a baseline for future testing. The test only takes about 15 minutes. Technologists zero in on specific bones that give doctors a good idea of total body bone health.

“The lumbar spine vertebrae are the densest bones in the human body,” Kimbro stated. “We do the hip. We try to do the hip or femur area because that is a high-risk fracture site.”

The good news is if a patient shows signs of bone loss, simple interventions like supplements, exercise and diet changes can help. If the problem is more serious, medication for osteoporosis can be prescribed.

“It can really change your life,” Kimbro stressed.

The new DEXA machine provides fast answers that can yield a wealth of information about both health.

“The new machine is all updated with the new computer and the results are quicker, more accurate, and it has all of the latest bells and whistles and all of the good things that we associate with new technology,” Dr. Knudtson emphasized. “You will not find any better equipment anywhere else.”

For Evelyn, having the latest technology in Estes Park is convenient.

“I’m glad we have this machine here,” she stressed. “This is awesome.”

For important diagnostic testing close to home, think Estes Park Health.

To watch a video about the new DEXA machine at EPH, log on to