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Inter-individual changes in cortical bone three-dimensional microstructure and elastic coefficient have opposite effects on radial sound speed

nowledge about simultaneous contributions of tissue microstructure and elastic properties on ultrasound speed in cortical bone is limited. In a previous study, porosities and elastic coefficients of cortical bone in human femurs were shown to change with age. In the present study, influences of inter-individual and site-dependent variation in cortical bone microstructure and elastic properties on radial speed of sound (SOS; at 4, 6, and 8 MHz) were investigated using three-dimensional (3D) finite difference time domain modeling. Models with fixed (nominal model) and sample-specific (sample-specific model) values of radial elastic coefficients were compared. Elastic coefficients and microstructure for samples (n = 24) of human femoral shafts (n = 6) were derived using scanning acoustic microscopy and micro-computed tomography images, respectively. Porosity-related SOS varied more extensively in nominal models than in sample-specific models. Linear correlation between pore separation and SOS was similar (R = 0.8, p < 0.01, for 4 MHz) for both models. The determination coefficient (R2 = 0.75, p < 0.05) between porosity and radial SOS, especially at 4 MHz, was highest in the posterior quadrant. The determination coefficient was lower for models with sample-specific values of radial elastic coefficient implemented (R2 < 0.33, p < 0.05), than for nominal models (0.48 < R2< 0.63, p < 0.05). This information could be useful in in vivo pulse-echo cortical thickness measurements applying constant SOS.