North American Male Reference Population for Speed of Sound in Bone at Multiple Skeletal Sites
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Alternatives to dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) have been sought to increase access to low-cost osteoporosis risk assessment. Early quantitative ultrasound (QUS) systems measured speed of sound (SOS) and broadband ultrasound attenuation (BUA) at the calcaneus, and these were demonstrated to be good predictors of hip fracture risk. Recent studies have demonstrated the usefulness of other peripheral sites to assess bone status. The Sunlight Omnisense (Sunlight Medical, Rehovot, Israel) is a portable, inexpensive QUS device capable of multiple-site SOS measurement. To provide a robust male reference database, 588 healthy Caucasian males aged 20-90 yr were recruited from 6 centers across North America. SOS measurements were taken at the distal 1/3 radius, proximal third phalanx, midshaft tibia, and fifth metatarsal. A female reference database has previously been collected at North American sites. The results indicate that SOS in males exhibits an age-related decline beginning in the fifth decade at the radius, phalanx, and metatarsal, whereas the tibial SOS remains nearly constant until the ninth decade. Although females reach a higher-peak SOS than males at most sites, SOS is higher in males at all sites after the sixth decade, as a result of a more gradual decline in SOS. Longitudinal monitoring of healthy men should be performed to confirm these cross-sectional results.