Imaging-Based Methods for Non-invasive Assessment of Bone Properties Influenced by Mechanical Loading Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • PURPOSE: To describe the most common in vivo imaging-based research tools used to assess bone properties that are influenced by mechanical loading associated with exercise, habitual physical activity, or disease states. Bone is a complex metabolically active tissue that adapts to changes in mechanical loading by altering the amount and spatial organization of mineral. METHOD: Using a narrative review design, the authors provide an overview of bone biology and biomechanics to emphasize the importance of bone size scale, porosity, and degree of mineralization when interpreting measures acquired using quantitative ultrasound (QUS), dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and finite element analysis (FEA). For each imaging modality, basic imaging principles, typical outcome measures associated with changes in mechanical loading, and salient features for physiotherapists are described. MAIN RESULTS: While each imaging modality has strengths and limitations, currently CT-based methods are best suited for determining the effects of mechanical loading on bone properties-particularly in the peripheral skeleton. CONCLUSIONS: Regardless of the imaging technology used, the physiotherapist must carefully consider the assumptions of the imaging-based method, the clinical context, the nature of the change in mechanical loading, and the expected time course for change in bone properties. Purpose: To describe the most common in vivo imaging-based research tools used to assess bone properties that are influenced by mechanical loading associated with exercise, habitual physical activity, or disease states. Bone is a complex metabolically active tissue that adapts to changes in mechanical loading by altering the amount and spatial organization of mineral. Method: Using a narrative review design, the authors provide an overview of bone biology and biomechanics to emphasize the importance of bone size scale, porosity, and degree of mineralization when interpreting measures acquired using quantitative ultrasound (QUS), dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and finite element analysis (FEA). For each imaging modality, basic imaging principles, typical outcome measures associated with changes in mechanical loading, and salient features for physiotherapists are described. Main Results: While each imaging modality has strengths and limitations, currently CT-based methods are best suited for determining the effects of mechanical loading on bone properties—particularly in the peripheral skeleton. Conclusions: Regardless of the imaging technology used, the physiotherapist must carefully consider the assumptions of the imaging-based method, the clinical context, the nature of the change in mechanical loading, and the expected time course for change in bone properties.

publication date

  • April 2012