Broadband Ultrasonic Attenuation, developed by Professor Langton, is a non-invasive method for making an estimation of bone mineral density. The assessment of osteoporosis by BUA has recently been recognised by Universities UK, within its EurekaUK book, as being one of the "100 discoveries and developments in UK Universities that have changed the world" over the past 50 years, covering the whole academic spectrum from the arts and humanities to science and technology.
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The procedure works by passing ultrasonic waves, in the range 0.1-1.0 MHz, through a water bath in which a bony part of the body, such as the heel, is immersed. The waves undergo attenuation (decrease in intensity), which is highly influenced by the bone structure, hence this attenuation varies significantly between normal and osteoporotic samples.
In place of live samples, the technique can be applied to rapid-prototyped replicas of human cancellous bone. These prototypes are formed from a vat of liquid, UV-curable resin using a layered, laser-induced, curing process (see images below).
Members of this research group are performing novel spatial-wavelength matched measurements of BUA in magnified rapid-prototyped replicas of human cancellous bone samples. This project is aimed at testing the hypothesis that BUA is dependent upon the bone-marrow surface area, thereby explaining the parabolic relationship with bone volume fraction.