Characterization of structural bone properties through portable single-sided nmr devices: State of the art and future perspectives

Marco Barbieri, Paola Fantazzini, Claudia Testa, Villiam Bortolotti, Fabio Baruffaldi, Feliks Kogan, Leonardo Brizi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) is a well-suited methodology to study bone composition and structural properties. This is because the NMR parameters, such as the T2 relaxation time, are sensitive to the chemical and physical environment of the1H nuclei. Although magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) allows bone structure assessment in vivo, its cost limits the suitability of conventional MRI for routine bone screening. With difficulty accessing clinically suitable exams, the diagnosis of bone diseases, such as osteoporosis, and the associated fracture risk estimation is based on the assessment of bone mineral density (BMD), obtained by the dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). However, integrating the information about the structure of the bone with the bone mineral density has been shown to improve fracture risk estimation related to osteoporosis. Portable NMR, based on low-field single-sided NMR devices, is a promising and appealing approach to assess NMR properties of biological tissues with the aim of medical applications. Since these scanners detect the signal from a sensitive volume external to the magnet, they can be used to perform NMR measurement without the need to fit a sample inside a bore of a magnet, allowing, in principle, in vivo application. Techniques based on NMR single-sided devices have the potential to provide a high impact on the clinical routine because of low purchasing and running costs and low maintenance of such scanners. In this review, the development of new methodologies to investigate structural properties of trabecular bone exploiting single-sided NMR devices is reviewed, and current limitations and future perspectives are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7318
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - Jul 7 2021


  • Bone
  • NMR relaxometry
  • Osteoporosis
  • Single-sided NMR
  • Structural parameters

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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