Skip to Main Content
Numerous studies have shown that ultrasonic velocity measured in bone provides a good assessment of osteoporotic fracture risk. However, a lack of standardization of signal processing techniques used to compute the speed of sound (SOS) complicates the comparison between data obtained with different commercial devices. In this study, 38 intact femurs were tested using a through-transmission technique and SOS determined using different techniques. The resulting difference in measured SOS was determined as functions of the attenuation and the velocity dispersion. A numerical simulation was used to explain how attenuation and dispersion impact two different SOS measurements (group velocity, velocity based on the first zero crossing of the signal). A new method aimed at compensating for attenuation was devised and led to a significant reduction in the difference between SOS obtained with both signal processing techniques. A comparison between SOS and X-ray density measurements indicated that the best correlation was reached for SOS based on the first zero crossing apparently because it used a marker located in the early part of the signal and was less sensitive to multipath interference. The conclusion is that first zero crossing velocity may be preferred to group velocity for ultrasonic assessment at this potential fracture site.