Osteoporosis International

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 203–210

Hand Ultrasound for Osteoporosis Screening in Postmenopausal Women

  • C. L. Benitez
  • D. L. Schneider
  • E. Barrett-Connor
  • D. J. Sartoris
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s001980050282

Cite this article as:
Benitez, C., Schneider, D., Barrett-Connor, E. et al. Osteoporos Int (2000) 11: 203. doi:10.1007/s001980050282


There is a need for low-cost screening methods to detect low bone mass (osteopenia or osteoporosis) in postmenopausal women. The utility of quantitative ultrasonography (QUS) of the hand was assessed for osteoporosis screening using the WHO criteria. Bone mineral density (BMD) was measured in 206 postmenopausal Mexican-American women at the total hip and lumbar spine by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). The amplitude-dependent speed of sound (AD-SoS) was measured in the phalanges by QUS. Subjects identified by DXA as having osteopenia or osteoporosis had significantly lower AD-SoS values in comparison with normals. Estrogen users had significantly higher spine and hip BMD and AD-SoS values compared with non-estrogen users. The areas under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves (AUC) for AD-SoS to screen for osteoporosis (T-score ≤−2.5) at the spine or hip were 0.73 for all subjects, 0.74 for estrogen users and 0.68 for non-estrogen users. The AUC for non-estrogen users to screen for osteopenia (T-score −1 to −2.5) was 0.77. Performance comparisons of AD-SoS with SCORE (a risk factor questionnaire) and body weight showed AUC values of 0.73, 0.69 and 0.65, respectively. QUS was the superior screening test when considering both the AUC and the shape of the ROC curves. For non-estrogen users, the group at higher risk for osteoporosis, QUS correctly identified 31% as normal, and 62% as having low bone mass and needing DXA referral; and the remaining 7% were false negatives. These data suggest phalangeal QUS can be effectively used for screening osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.

Key words: Bone density – Osteoporosis – Phalanx – Screening – Ultrasound 

Copyright information

© International Osteoporosis Foundation and National Osteoporosis Foundation 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. L. Benitez
    • 1
  • D. L. Schneider
    • 2
  • E. Barrett-Connor
    • 3
  • D. J. Sartoris
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Medicine, University of California–San Diego, La Jolla, California, USAUS
  2. 2.Department of Medicine, University of California–San Diego, La Jolla, California, USAUS
  3. 3.Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of California–San Diego, La Jolla, California, USAUS
  4. 4.Department of Radiology, University of California–San Diego, La Jolla, California, USAUS

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