Journal of Endocrinological Investigation

, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 389–397 | Cite as

The use of ultrasound in the assessment of bone status

Review Article


The assessment of skeletal status has wide clinical applications, especially in the management of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis, once thought of as an unpreventable and untreatable aging process, has revealed many of its secrets over the last decade, and the advent of successful drug therapy has changed our perception of the disease. Non-invasive techniques play a fundamental role in the diagnosis of osteoporosis and in the assessment of the efficacy of drug treatments. The primary technique used in osteoporosis is dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), that has been established as a reliable means of measuring bone density. Quantitative ultrasound (QUS), because of the relative portability of the equipment, ease of use, lack of ionizing radiation and low cost, has great potential for widespread use. Five devices for QUS assessment have recently been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and many more applications are in progress. QUS is a relatively new technology, at least in its application to bone fragility. Nevertheless, QUS has demonstrated that it is able to detect bone fragility as well as DXA. However, diagnosis of osteoporosis by QUS remains contentious, but the problems are due more to the limitations of the present T-scores rather than to the technique. A better option for QUS would be to report results in terms of remaining lifetime fracture risk, keeping in mind that a risk estimate needs not only the QUS or DXA measurement, but also the specific data, such as age, weight, gender, hormonal status and fracture history of the patient.


Quantitative ultrasound bone mass bone quality 


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Copyright information

© Italian Society of Endocrinology (SIE) 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Internal MedicineUniversity of SienaSienaItaly

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