Key words: Ultrasound — Calcaneus — Fixation — Reproducibility — Maceration.
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract. The objective of this study was to determine the reproducibility of ultrasonic bone properties with a system for measuring calcanei ex situ; the influence of changes of the measurement site; and the effects of fixation, storage, and maceration. We examined 14 fixed calcanei and 12 fresh bones. Ultrasonic measurements were performed ex situ after degassing, using an Achilles+ system and a special positioning device. The instrument precision was 0.16% for speed of sound (SOS), 1.4% for broadband ultrasonic attenuation (BUA), and 1.8% for the stiffness index (SI). The short-term precision was 0.54%, 1.9%, and 2.8%, respectively. A defined shift of the measurement site (5 mm distal of the middle) led to unpredictable changes in ultrasound (US) properties (r = 0.65 for SOS, 0.82 for BUA, and 0.75 for SI). Embalment with 4% formalin/96% alcohol caused a systematic decrease in SOS, an increase in BUA, and a decrease in SI (mean =−12.7 units; P 〈 0.001), the effect increasing with time. However, values at 6 months of fixation and later were highly correlated with those in fresh specimens (r = 0.95 for the SI). Two weeks storage in degassed and normal solution had only modest effects on ultrasound properties. Maceration did not lead to a systematic increase or decrease of ultrasound variables, but introduced unpredictable changes (r = 0.64–0.94). We conclude that in comparative biomechanical studies it is feasible to measure calcaneal specimens embalmed in formalin/alcohol ex situ, if the primary interest is not in the absolute values but in the correlation with mechanical failure loads at other skeletal sites.
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