Do ultrasound measurements on the os calcis reflect more the bone microarchitecture than the bone mass?: a two-dimensional histomorphometric study

Bone. 1995 Mar;16(3):295-300. doi: 10.1016/8756-3282(94)00041-7.


Few studies have analyzed the relationship between ultrasound measurements (US) and corresponding histomorphometric parameters of the calcaneus. To address this question we have compared US and histomorphometric parameters in 17 whole human os calcis from amputation or necropsy. Speed of sound (SOS), broadband ultrasound attenuation (BUA), and bone mineral density (BMD) were measured on the whole foot at the calcaneal site using an Achilles device and a DPX-L densitometer (Lunar). The os calcis was dissected and a 1-cm-wide transcortical parallelepiped extracted with a biopsy needle, focused on the center of the measured area. Histomorphometry was performed on undecalcified biopsies. Structural and connectivity parameters were measured on 7-microns-thick sections with both automatic (Biocom) and semiautomatic analyzers (Ibas 1, Kontron). We found that all ultrasonic and densitometric parameters reflected the true amount of bone and were correlated with only some of the parameters reflecting bone microarchitecture. From stepwise regression analysis, we found that 68%, 67%, 72%, and 74% of the variance of SOS, BUA stiffness, and BMD, respectively, were explained significantly by trabeculae thickness only. Ultrasonic measurements appear to reflect bone quantity rather than bone microarchitecture. The current conclusion is fairly negative with respect to the ability of ultrasound to assess structural parameters, but our limited sample size did not give enough power to our study to reach statistically significant correlations. In addition, the calcaneus is anisotropic and the ultrasound interaction in bone is a three-dimensional phenomenon. So, a three-dimensional study rather than a two-dimensional one should be performed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Amputation, Surgical
  • Bone Density / physiology*
  • Calcaneus / diagnostic imaging*
  • Calcaneus / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Regression Analysis
  • Software
  • Ultrasonography