Dielectric properties of bones for the monitoring of osteoporosis

  • Bilal AminEmail author
  • Muhammad Adnan Elahi
  • Atif Shahzad
  • Emily Porter
  • Barry McDermott
  • Martin O’Halloran
Review Article


Osteoporosis is one of the most common diseases that leads to bone fractures. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry is currently employed to measure the bone mineral density and to diagnose osteoporosis. Alternatively, the dielectric properties of bones are found to be influenced by bone mineral density; hence, dielectric properties of bones may potentially be used to diagnose osteoporosis. Microwave tomographic imaging is currently in development to potentially measure in vivo dielectric properties of bone. Therefore, the foci of this work are to summarize all available dielectric data of bone in the microwave frequency range and to analyze the confounders that may have resulted in variations in reported data. This study also compares the relationship between the dielectric properties and bone quality reported across different studies. The review suggests that variations exist in the dielectric properties of bone and the relationship between bone volume fraction and dielectric properties is in agreement across all studies. Conversely, the evidence of a relationship between bone mineral density and dielectric properties is inconsistent across the studies. This summary of dielectric data of bone along with a comparison of the relationship between the dielectric properties and bone quality will accelerate the development of microwave tomographic imaging devices for the monitoring of osteoporosis.

Graphical abstract


Bones Osteoporosis Bone mineral density Dielectric properties Microwave imaging 


Funding information

The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Programme/ ERC Grant Agreement BioElecPro no. 637780.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© International Federation for Medical and Biological Engineering 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Electrical and Electronic EngineeringNational University of Ireland GalwayGalwayIreland
  2. 2.Translational Medical Device Lab, Lambe Institute for Translational Research & HRB Clinical Research FacilityUniversity Hospital GalwayGalwayIreland
  3. 3.School of MedicineNational University of Ireland GalwayGalwayIreland

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