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J Clin Densitom. 2001 Summer;4(2):111-20.

Calcaneus ultrasound measurements in a convenience sample of healthy youth.

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Department of Orthopedics, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston MA, USA.


We examined age-related changes in quantitative ultrasound of the calcaneus in 311 healthy males and females ages 6.6-20 yr using the Lunar Achilles ultrasound device. This equipment has been adapted for pediatric use with the provision of shims designed to properly position smaller feet relative to the transducers. Broadband ultrasound attenuation (BUA) (decibels/megahertz), speed of sound (SOS) (meters/second), and stiffness index (SI) (percent) increased across the age range until a plateau was reached at 16-18 yr. BUA increased by 40%, SOS by 4%, and SI by 80% across this age range. There was no gender difference in age-related gains. Age, weight, height, and hours of weight-bearing physical activity were all significantly associated with BUA, SOS, and SI. After controlling for age and weight, hours of weight-bearing physical activity showed little to no additional effect on these parameters. Short-term in vivo precision using this device was similar in children to that observed in adults in our laboratory; coefficients of variation for between-day measurements were 1.8, 0.6, and 3.2% for BUA, SOS, and SI, respectively. These data support the feasibility of using the Lunar Achilles in evaluating pediatric bone mass. The ability of this technique to discriminate between osteopenic and normal children remains to be determined.

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