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J Pediatr. 2005 Jun;146(6):764-8.

Speed of sound: relation to geometric characteristics of bone in children, adolescents, and adults.

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  • 1Children's Hospital of the University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany.



To investigate the relation between volumetric bone mineral density (vBMD) and speed of sound (SOS).


Total and trabecular vBMD were measured by peripheral quantitative computed tomography at the forearm in a population of 216 individuals of a pediatric outpatient clinic. Moreover, SOS was measured by a quantitative ultrasound device (QUS) at the thumb, patella, and os calcis.


Linear regression analysis revealed that the prediction of SOS by vBMD is relatively weak (R2 < 0.1). Moreover, body height and measures of bone size have a stronger influence on SOS than vBMD. The influence of bone size on SOS also depends on the location of measurement (highest prediction of SOS by body height at patella with R2 = 0.56). Anthropometric characteristics have a stronger influence on SOS than measures of bone mineral density at the thumb and patella in comparison to os calcis (body height predicts SOS at os calcis, with R2 = 0.03). Conclusions QUS is not a suitable method to assess bone density. If QUS is applied for the assessment of bone development and of bone fracture risk, the measurement should be performed with consideration of anthropometric measurements.

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