Semi-empirical bone model for determination of trabecular structure properties from backscattered ultrasound

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Abstract

A novel semi-empirical scattering model of trabecular bone facilitating its characterization and allowing optimization of the interrogating pulse-echo transducer performance was developed. The model accounts for spatial density distribution of the trabeculae and includes measurement conditions such as pressure–time waveform of the probing ultrasound wave, the emitted field structure, and the transfer function and limited bandwidth of the acoustic source operating in pulse-echo mode. These measurement conditions are of importance as they modify the scattered echoes, which in turn are linked to the micro-architecture of the bone. The bone was modeled by a random distribution of long and thin cylindrical scatterers having randomly varying diameters and mechanical properties, and oriented perpendicularly to the ultrasound beam axis. To mimic clinically encountered conditions the relevant empirical data obtained at 1 MHz were input to the model. The data included pulse-echo source pressure field distribution in the focal zone and the above mentioned transfer function. With these data the model allowed frequency dependent backscattering coefficient of the simulated bone structure and its statistical properties to be determined. The results obtained indicated that the computer simulation is of particular relevance in studying scattering properties of the cancellous bone and holds promise as a tool to determine the relationship between the physical dimensions and shape of the scatterers and for monitoring of osteoporosis. The results of simulations also indicated that the new bone model proposed is well suited to mimic clinically relevant conditions. In contrast to the existing bone models, which usually assume scatterers to be randomly distributed as infinitely long identical cylinders with a cross-section much smaller than the probing ultrasound wave, the new model includes two populations of scatterers having different physical dimensions and also allows the mechanical properties of the scatterers to be varied.

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