Three-dimensional Simulation of Quantitative Ultrasound in Cancellous Bone Using the Echographic Response of a Metallic Pin

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Degenerative discopathy is a common pathology that may require spine surgery. A metallic cylindrical pin is inserted into the vertebral body to maintain soft tissues and may be used as a reflector of ultrasonic wave to estimate bone density. The first aim of this paper is to validate a three-dimensional (3-D) model to simulate the ultrasonic propagation in a trabecular bone sample in which a metallic pin has been inserted. We also aim at determining the effect of changes of bone volume fraction (BV/TV) and of positioning errors on the quantitative ultrasound (QUS) parameters in this specific configuration. The approach consists in coupling finite-difference time-domain simulation with X-ray microcomputed tomography. The correlation coefficient between experimental and simulated speed of sound (SOS)—respectively, broadband ultrasonic attenuation (BUA)—was equal to 0.90 (respectively, 0.55). The results show a significant correlation of SOS with BV/TV (R = 0.82), while BUA values exhibit a nonlinear behavior versus BV/TV. The orientation of the pin should be controlled with an accuracy of around 1° to obtain accurate results. The results indicate that using the ultrasonic wave reflected by a pin has a potential to estimate the bone density. SOS is more reliable than BUA due to its lower sensitivity to the tilt angle.

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