Relationship between ultrasonic parameters and apparent trabecular bone elastic modulus: A numerical approach

G. Haïat*, F. Padilla, M. Svrcekova, Y. Chevalier, D. Pahr, F. Peyrin, P. Laugier, P. Zysset

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

45 Citations (Scopus)


The physical principles underlying quantitative ultrasound (QUS) measurements in trabecular bone are not fully understood. The translation of QUS results into bone strength remains elusive. However, ultrasound being mechanical waves, it is likely to assess apparent bone elasticity. The aim of this study is to derive the sensitivity of QUS parameters to variations of apparent bone elasticity, a surrogate for strength. The geometry of 34 human trabecular bone samples cut in the great trochanter was reconstructed using 3-D synchrotron micro-computed tomography. Finite-difference time-domain simulations coupled to 3-D micro-structural models were performed in the three perpendicular directions for each sample and each direction. A voxel-based micro-finite element linear analysis was employed to compute the apparent Young's modulus (E) of each sample for each direction. For the antero-posterior direction, the predictive power of speed of sound and normalized broadband ultrasonic attenuation to assess E was equal to 0.9 and 0.87, respectively, which is better than what is obtained using bone density alone or coupled with micro-architectural parameters and of the same order of what can be achieved with the fabric tensor approach. When the direction of testing is parallel to the main trabecular orientation, the predictive power of QUS parameters decreases and the fabric tensor approach always gives the best results. This decrease can be explained by the presence of two longitudinal wave modes. Our results, which were obtained using two distinct simulation tools applied on the same set of samples, highlight the potential of QUS techniques to assess bone strength.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2033-2039
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 18 Sept 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Bone
  • FDTD simulation
  • Micro-finite element analysis
  • Numerical simulation
  • Quantitative ultrasonic imaging
  • Ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Rehabilitation


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