Ultrasound attenuation in normal and spontaneously degenerated articular cartilage

Ultrasound Med Biol. 2004 Apr;30(4):493-500. doi: 10.1016/j.ultrasmedbio.2003.12.007.


High-frequency ultrasound (US) measurements may provide means for the quantification of articular cartilage quality. Bovine patellar cartilage samples (n = 32) at various degenerative stages were studied using US attenuation measurements in the 5- to 9-MHz frequency range. The results were compared with the histologic, biochemical and mechanical parameters obtained for the same samples, to identify which structural or functional factors could be related to the attenuation and its variations. Attenuation, as calculated in the frequency or time domain, correlated significantly with the histologic tissue integrity (i.e., Mankin score, Spearman r = -0.576 or -0.571, p < 0.01), but the slope of attenuation vs. frequency was not related to Mankin score. Ultrasound speed was, however, the most sensitive indicator of Mankin score (r = -0.755, p < 0.01). Cartilage quality index (CQI), a combination of structural and functional parameters, correlated significantly with the attenuation or speed (r = -0.655 or -0.872, p < 0.01). Our results suggest that US attenuation and speed may be suited for the diagnostics of cartilage degeneration. (E-mail: )

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cartilage Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Cartilage Diseases / pathology
  • Cartilage, Articular / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology
  • Cattle
  • Patella
  • Ultrasonography