Symposium: Bone Quality: From Bench to Bedside

Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research®

, Volume 469, Issue 8, pp 2170-2178

First online:

Infrared Assessment of Bone Quality: A Review

  • Eleftherios P. PaschalisAffiliated withLudwig Boltzmann Institute of Osteology, Hanusch Hospital of WGKK (Viennese Sickness Insurance Funds), and AUVA (Austrian Social Insurance for Occupational Risks) Trauma Centre Meidling Email author 
  • , Richard MendelsohnAffiliated withDepartment of Chemistry, Rutgers University
  • , Adele L. BoskeyAffiliated withMusculoskeletal Integrity Program, Hospital for Special Surgery

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Bone strength depends on both bone quantity and quality. The former is routinely estimated in clinical settings through bone mineral density measurements but not the latter. Bone quality encompasses the structural and material properties of bone. Although its importance is appreciated, its contribution in determining bone strength has been difficult to precisely quantify partly because it is multifactorial and requires investigation of all bone hierarchical levels. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy provides one way to explore these levels.


The purposes of our review were to (1) provide a brief overview of Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy as a way to establish bone quality, (2) review the major bone material parameters determined from Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, and (3) review the role of Fourier transform infrared microspectroscopic analysis in establishing bone quality.


We used the ISI Web of Knowledge database initially to identify articles containing the Boolean term “infrared” AND “bone.” We then focused on articles on infrared spectroscopy in bone-related journals.


Infrared spectroscopy provides information on bone material properties. Their microspectroscopic versions allow one to establish these properties as a function of anatomic location, mineralization extent, and bone metabolic activity. It provides answers pertaining to the contribution of mineral to matrix ratio, mineral maturity, mineral carbonate substitution, and collagen crosslinks to bone strength. Alterations of bone material properties have been identified in disease (especially osteoporosis) not attainable by other techniques.


Infrared spectroscopic analysis is a powerful tool for establishing the important material properties contributing to bone strength and thus has helped better understand changes in fragile bone.