Ultrasonic measurement of glomerular diameters in normal adult humans

Timothy J. Hall, Michael F. Insana, Linda A. Harrison, Glendon G. Cox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The average size of acoustic scatterers and the integrated backscatter coefficient of kidney cortex were measured in vivo from 2-4 MHz for a group of 50 normal adult volunteers. Our goal was to determine the sensitivity of the ultrasonic measurements under clinical conditions by identifying biologic sources of estimation uncertainty. Based on 10 measurements on each kidney of each volunteer, the average glomerular diameter for the group was found to he 216 + 27 μm (SD). Glomerular size was found to correlate with body surface area (r = 0.4), and the ratio of glomerular surface area to body surface area (GSA/BSA) was found to be constant throughout normal adult life with GSA/BSA = (8.24 ± 1.35) x 10-8 (SD). These results are consistent with histologic analyses found in the literature. Within an individual, 7% standard errors in GSA/BSA are typical. Biologic variability dominates the variance in scatterer size estimates in a group not matched for BSA, where it accounts for 47% of the variance. In a group of individuals matched for BSA, biologic variability accounts for only 21% of the variance; day-to-day variability accounts for 35% of the variance; and experimental parameters account for the remainder. If a deviation greater than 2 x SD is considered abnormal, then this technique can potentially detect changes in glomerular diameter as small as 30 μm within an individual. To detect abnormal GSA/BSA values for an individual, GSA/BSA would have to differ from the mean for that group by about 3.6 x 10-8 or about 40%. Therefore, at this time scatterer size estimates appear most reliable for tracking the progression of disease and treatment for an individual over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)987-997
Number of pages11
JournalUltrasound in Medicine and Biology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Glomerular size
  • Kidneys
  • Quantitative imaging
  • Tissue characterization
  • Ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


Dive into the research topics of 'Ultrasonic measurement of glomerular diameters in normal adult humans'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this