TAMIU Researcher Explores New Bone Porosity Technique

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the world's population age 65 and older is growing by 800,000 people a month. One concern of an aging population is osteoporosis, a condition prevalent in older adults characterized by a decrease in bone mass and bone density.

Dr. Qingwen Ni, assistant professor of physics at Texas A&M International University, recently had a paper accepted for publishing that discussed a new way to determine bone porosity in a less invasive or destructive manner than traditional methods.

Dr. Ni, who specializes in researching nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), and his co-authors proved that NMR, often used to measure porosity in materials such as rocks and concrete, could be used to determine the porosity of human bone. Current methods, such as histomorphometry of bone samples, require invasive surgery and other methods, like magnetic resonance imaging, are not able to obtain complete imaging.

Dr. Ni's method uses existing technology in a new, imaginative way. His research proving NMR effective will be published in Institute of Physics Publishing's (IOP) Measurement Science and Technology. IOP is a prestigious publisher, with seven of 2003 Nobel Prize winners publishing key works in IOP journals.

Ni explained that the benefits of NMR are not just non-invasiveness.

"In the paper, the results obtained from NMR methodology are compared with the results obtained from currently available but destructive techniques. The results are similar, however this technique is non-destructive, rapid and uses an inexpensive instrument and test," said Ni, "Because it is non-invasive and nondestructive, this technique has great potential in the biomedical fields, particularly in bone-related research and applications."

Interest in this research has been high. Physicweb, a site with information about news, jobs and resources for those interested in physics, contacted Dr. Ni about his research and published an article about it at the beginning of November.

For more information, please contact Dr. Qingwen Ni at 326.2409, visit offices in the Dr. F.M. Canseco Hall, room 302F, or e-mail qni@tamiu.edu. University office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

[Ed. note: The abstract of the paper was published in IOP electronic journals on October 20, 2003 and the full paper citation is Meas. Sci. Technol. 15 58-66, 2004]

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