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Mean scatterer spacing (MSS) holds particular promise for the detection of changes in quasiperiodic tissue microstructures such as may occur during development of disease in the liver, spleen, or bones. Many techniques that may be applied for MSS estimation (temporal and spectral autocorrelation, power spectrum and cepstrum, higher order statistics, and quadratic transformation) characterize signals that contain a mixture of periodic and nonperiodic contributions. In contrast, singular spectrum analysis (SSA), a method usually applied in nonlinear dynamics, first identifies components of signals corresponding to periodic structures and, second, identifies dominant periodicity. Thus, SSA may better separate periodic structures from nonperiodic structures and noise. Using an ultrasound echo simulation model, we previously demonstrated SSA's potential to identify MSS of structures in quasiperiodic scattering media. The current work aims to observe the behavior of MSS estimation by SSA using ultrasound measurements in phantom materials (two parallel, nylon-line phantoms and four foam phantoms of different densities). The SSA was able to estimate not only the nylon-line distances but also nylon-line thickness. The method also was sensitive to the average pore-size differences of the four sponges. The algorithms then were applied to characterize human cancellous bone microarchitectures. Using 1-MHz center-frequency, radio-frequency ultrasound signals, MSS was measured in 24 in vitro bone samples and ranged front 1.0 to 1.7 mm. The SSA MSS estimates correlate significantly to MSS measured independently front synchrotron microtomography, r/sup 2/=0.68. Thus, application of SSA to backscattered ultrasound signals seems to be useful for providing information linked to tissue microarchitecture that is riot evident from clinical images.