OBJECTIVES: To determine whether the CUBA clinical quantitative ultrasound bone analyser was able to distinguish variations in bone quality between groups categorised according to activity level. METHOD: Eighty one white women aged 32 to 89 completed a confidential questionnaire on general health, diet, and exercise participation and underwent ultrasound testing at the right calcaneus utilising a CUBA clinical ultrasound system. RESULTS: The results confirmed the inverse relationship between age and the ultrasound indicators of bone quality: broadband ultrasound attenuation (BUA) (r = -0.52) and velocity of sound (VOS) (r = -0.68). Subject height weakly but significantly correlated with BUA (r = 0.39) and VOS (r = 0.35), and subject weight only correlated significantly with BUA (r = 0.37). Activity level was significantly associated (p < 0.05) with the changes in ultrasound attenuation (BUA). The use of hormone replacement therapy or the contraceptive pill, a family history of osteoporosis, and gross indicators of calcium consumption did not yield significant results. CONCLUSION: Data obtained from the CUBA clinical system were sensitive enough to allow women to be classified into groups according to activity level. These data were within the range of "normal" ultrasound data and hence it is suggested that the machine has research as well as clinical value.
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