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Human Research Program

A Scanning Confocal Acoustic Diagnostic System for Non-Invasively Assessing Bone Quality

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

Musculoskeletal complications induced by age-related diseases like osteoporosis, and in long-term disuse osteopenia such as a lack of microgravity during extended space missions and long-term bed rest, represent a key health problem. Such a skeletal disorder changes both the structural and strength properties of bone, and the latter plays a critical role in ultimately leading to fracture. Early diagnosis of progressive bone loss or poor bone quality would allow prompt treatment and thus will dramatically reduce the risk of bone fracture. While most of the osteoporotic fractures occur in cancellous bone, non-invasive assessment of trabecular strength and stiffness is extremely important in evaluating bone quality. In this year's research, we are able to develop a scanning confocal acoustic diagnostic (SCAD) system capable of generating acoustic images at the regions of interest (e.g., in the human calcaneus) for identifying the strength of trabecular bone, in which the system is capable of generating non-invasive, high-resolution ultrasound (US) attenuation and velocity maps of bone, and thus determining the relationship between ultrasonic specific parameters and bone mineral density (BMD), and bone strength and bone's physical properties (i.e., stiffness and modulus). The ultrasound resolution and sensitivity are significantly improved by its configuration, compared to the existing technology. Developed prototype of SCAD is successfully used in the bedrest subjects (UTMB, Galveston, TX) and clinical test (Stony Brook University). A fast scan mode (~2.5 min) and a surface topology mapping technology using scanning ultrasound are developed and capable of determining calcaneus bone thickness accurately and hence enhancing the accuracy of UV measurement. More »

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