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Ultrasonic characterization of human trabecular bone microstructure.

  • Hakulinen, Mikko A
  • Day, Judd S
  • Töyräs, Juha
  • Weinans, Harrie
  • Jurvelin, Jukka S
Published Article
Physics in medicine and biology
Publication Date
Mar 21, 2006
PMID: 16510968


New quantitative ultrasound (QUS) techniques involving ultrasound backscattering have been introduced for the assessment of bone quality. QUS parameters are affected by the transducer characteristics, e.g. frequency range, wave and pulse length. Although frequency-dependent backscattering has been studied extensively, understanding of the ultrasound scattering phenomenon in trabecular bone is still limited. In the present study, the relationships between QUS parameters and the microstructure of human trabecular bone were investigated experimentally and by using numerical simulations. Speed of sound (SOS), normalized broadband ultrasound attenuation (nBUA), average attenuation, integrated reflection coefficient (IRC) and broadband ultrasound backscatter (BUB) were measured for 26 human trabecular bone cylinders. Subsequently, a high-resolution microCT system was used to determine the microstructural parameters. Moreover, based on the sample-specific microCT data, a numerical model for ultrasound propagation was developed for the simulation of experimental measurements. Experimentally, significant relationships between the QUS parameters and microstructural parameters were demonstrated. The relationships were dependent on the frequency, and the strongest association (r = 0.88) between SOS and structural parameters was observed at a centre frequency of 5 MHz. nBUA, average attenuation, IRC and BUB showed somewhat lower linear correlations with the structural properties at a centre frequency of 5 MHz, as compared to those determined at lower frequencies. Multiple regression analyses revealed that the variation of acoustic parameters could best be explained by parameters reflecting the amount of mineralized tissue. A principal component analysis demonstrated that the strongest determinants of BUB and IRC were related to the trabecular structure. However, other structural characteristics contributed significantly to the prediction of the acoustic parameters as well. The two-dimensional numerical model introduced in the present study demonstrated good agreement with the experimental measurements. However, further studies with the simulation model are warranted to systematically investigate the relation between the structural parameters and ultrasound scattering.

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