Prediction of trabecular bone qualitative properties using scanning quantitative ultrasound

Yi Xian Qin, Wei Lin, Erik Mittra, Yi Xia, Jiqi Cheng, Stefan Judex, Clint Rubin, Ralph Müller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry Bone quality Microgravity induced bone loss represents a critical health problem in astronauts, particularly occurred in weight-supporting skeleton, which leads to osteopenia and increase of fracture risk. Lack of suitable evaluation modality makes it difficult for monitoring skeletal status in long term space mission and increases potential risk of complication. Such disuse osteopenia and osteoporosis compromise trabecular bone density, and architectural and mechanical properties. While X-ray based imaging would not be practical in space, quantitative ultrasound may provide advantages to characterize bone density and strength through wave propagation in complex trabecular structure. This study used a scanning confocal acoustic diagnostic and navigation system (SCAN) to evaluate trabecular bone quality in 60 cubic trabecular samples harvested from adult sheep. Ultrasound image based SCAN measurements in structural and strength properties were validated by |mCT and compressive mechanical testing. This result indicated a moderately strong negative correlations observed between broadband ultrasonic attenuation (BUA) and mCT-determined bone volume fraction (BV/TV, R2=0.53). Strong correlations were observed between ultrasound velocity (UV) and bone's mechanical strength and structural parameters, i.e., bulk Young's modulus (R2=0.67) and BV/TV (R2=0.85). The predictions for bone density and mechanical strength were significantly improved by using a linear combination of both BUA and UV, yielding R2 = 0.92 for BV/TV and R2 = 0.71 for bulk Young's modulus. These results imply that quantitative ultrasound can characterize trabecular structural and mechanical properties through measurements of particular ultrasound parameters, and potentially provide an excellent estimation for bone's structural integrity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-88
Number of pages10
JournalActa Astronautica
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Bone adaptation
  • Bone loss in space
  • Bone mineral density
  • Disuse osteoporosis
  • Quantitative ultrasound
  • Scanning confocal ultrasound
  • Speed of sound
  • Ultrasound attenuation
  • Ultrasound velocity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering


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