Is calcaneal broadband ultrasound attenuation a valid index of dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry-derived bone mass in children?

B. K. Weeks, R. Hirsch, R. C. Nogueira, B. R. Beck

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The aim of the current study was to assess whether calcaneal broadband ultrasound attenuation (BUA) can predict whole body and regional dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA)-derived bone mass in healthy, Australian children and adolescents at different stages of maturity.

A total of 389 boys and girls across a wide age range (four to 18 years) volunteered to participate. The estimated age of peak height velocity (APHV) was used to classify children into pre-, peri-, and post-APHV groups. BUA was measured at the non-dominant heel with quantitative ultrasonometry (QUS) (Lunar Achilles Insight, GE), while bone mineral density (BMD) and bone mineral content (BMC) were examined at the femoral neck, lumbar spine and whole body (DXA, XR-800, Norland). Associations between BUA and DXA-derived measures were examined with Pearson correlations and linear regression. Participants were additionally ranked in quartiles for QUS and DXA measures in order to determine agreement in rankings.

For the whole sample, BUA predicted 29% of the study population variance in whole body BMC and BMD, 23% to 24% of the study population variance in lumbar spine BMC and BMD, and 21% to 24% of the variance in femoral neck BMC and BMD (p < 0.001). BUA predictions were strongest for the most mature participants (pre-APHV R2 = 0.03 to 0.19; peri-APHV R2 = 0.05 to 0.17; post-APHV R2 = 0.18 to 0.28) and marginally stronger for girls (R2 = 0.25-0.32, p < 0.001) than for boys (R2 = 0.21-0.27, p < 0.001). Agreement in quartile rankings between QUS and DXA measures of bone mass was generally poor (27.3% to 38.2%).

Calcaneal BUA has a weak to moderate relationship with DXA measurements of bone mass in children, and has a tendency to misclassify children on the basis of quartile rankings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)538-543
Number of pages6
JournalBone and Joint Research
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016
Externally publishedYes


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