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Keywords:

  • ultrasound;
  • backscattering;
  • densitometry;
  • osteoporosis

Abstract

Ultrasound technology has emerged as a new tool in the assessment of osteoporosis. Ultrasound parameters usually are measured in transmission; there is a potential for the analysis of backscattered signals to provide information on bone microarchitecture. The aim of this study was to explore a new technological development of the method, adding backscatter coefficient to transmission parameters, and to examine the appropriate thresholds to identify postmenopausal osteoporotic women. We examined 210 postmenopausal women (including 60 with osteoporotic fractures) and 30 healthy premenopausal controls. They had lumbar spine and hip bone mineral density (BMD) measurement and quantitative ultrasound (QUS) evaluation at the os calcis, measured in transmission (broadband ultrasound attenuation [BUA], speed of sound [SOS], ratio of transit time [dt] to BUA [dt/BUA], and “strength” index [STI]) and reflexion (broadband ultrasound backscattering [BUB]). The standardized CVs (sCVs) were between 2.27% and 3.40% for QUS measured in transmission and 4.41% for BUB. The odds ratio (OR) for fracture discrimination adjusted for age was 2.77 for hip BMD and between 1.6 and 2.9 for QUS. After adjustment for hip BMD, ORs were still highly significant for SOS, STI, and dt/BUA. According to hip BMD T score, prevalence of osteoporosis in our population was 39%. To detect the same prevalence, T scores ranged between −0.95 and −1.42 for QUS. QUS parameters have adequate ability to discriminate osteoporotic patients from controls. The World Health Organization (WHO) threshold for diagnosis of osteoporosis does not apply to this technology. The clinical utility of BUB at the os calcis, in addition to usual ultrasound parameters, is not yet proven. However, BUB evaluation, which does not require two transducers and may be implemented in conventional reflection mode systems, warrants further studies.