We introduce an ultrasonic quantitative imaging method for long bones based on full-waveform inversion. The cost function is defined as the difference in the L2-norm sense between observed data and synthetic results at a given iteration of the iterative inversion process. For simplicity, and in order to reduce the computational cost, we use a two-dimensional acoustic approximation. The inverse problem is solved iteratively based on a quasi-Newton technique called the Limited-memory Broyden–Fletcher–Goldfarb–Shanno method. We show how the technique can be made to work fine for benchmark models consisting of a single cylinder, and then five cylinders, the latter case including significant multiple diffraction effects. We then show pictures obtained for a tibia-fibula bone pair model. Convergence is fast, typically in 15 to 30 iterations in practice in each frequency band used. We discuss the so-called 'cycle skipping' effect that can occur in such full waveform inversion techniques and make them remain trapped in a local minimum of the cost function. We illustrate strategies that can be used in practice to avoid this. Future work should include viscoelastic materials rather than acoustic, and real data instead of synthetic data.

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