Quantitative ultrasound correlates with bone density and bone turnover in older women

June 4, 2007

Quantitative ultrasound, the standard method for measuring bone quality, also correlates with bone mineral density and biochemical markers for bone turnover in women aged 66 to 77, according to a study from Greece. Older women in rural areas and others who lack access to biochemical labs and dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry equipment, the standard for measuring bone density, could therefore be screened for complete bone status using ultrasound.

Quantitative ultrasound, the standard method for measuring bone quality, also correlates with bone mineral density and biochemical markers for bone turnover in women aged 66 to 77, according to a study from Greece. Older women in rural areas and others who lack access to biochemical labs and dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry equipment, the standard for measuring bone density, could therefore be screened for complete bone status using ultrasound.

Dr. Vasiliki Lappa and colleagues at the Laboratory for Research of the Musculoskeletal System in the School of Medicine at the University of Athens will publish their findings in Clinical Rheumatology in July.

The researchers studied test results from 123 white women divided into three groups:

  • Group A: between the ages of 44 and 54, with a mean age of 48.3

  • Group B: between the ages of 55 and 65, with a mean age of 59.4

  • Group C: between the ages of 66 and 77, with a mean age of 68.2

They performed quantitative ultrasound exams on the largest bone in the foot. Results were compared with standard bone density tests done with dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry equipment at the lumbar spine, femoral neck, and trochanter. These data were also compared with blood and urine test results showing four standard markers for bone turnover.

Quantitative ultrasound and bone mineral density results were significantly correlated in all but the hip bone density measurements in the youngest age group. The most significant correlation showed up in broadband ultrasound attenuation and femoral neck bone density measurements in the oldest group of women.

Broadband ultrasound attenuation also correlated significantly with three of the four biochemical tests in group C, with speed of sound measurements correlating significantly with two of the four biochemical markers. In the two younger age groups, ultrasound did not correlate significantly with biochemical tests.

This study helps clarify which patients would best be served by ultrasound screening for total bone status - older postmenopausal women in remote areas or those who can't use standard dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry equipment. In these patients, ultrasound results were significantly correlated with standard x-ray bone mineral density tests and biochemical bone turnover markers.