Robust signal processing methods adapted to clinical measurements of guided modes are required to assess bone properties such as cortical thickness and porosity. Recently, an approach based on the singular value decomposition (SVD) of multidimensional signals recorded with an axial transmission array of emitters and receivers has been proposed for materials with negligible absorption, see Minonzio et al. [J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 127, 2913–2919 (2010)]. In presence of absorption, the ability to extract guided mode degrades. The objective of the present study is to extend the method to the case of absorbing media, considering attenuated plane waves (complex wavenumber). The guided mode wavenumber extraction is enhanced and the order of magnitude of the attenuation of the guided mode is estimated. Experiments have been carried out on 2 mm thick plates in the 0.2–2 MHz bandwidth. Two materials are inspected: polymethylacrylate (PMMA) (isotropic with absorption) and artificial composite bones (Sawbones, Pacific Research Laboratory Inc, Vashon, WA) which is a transverse isotropic absorbing medium. Bulk wave velocities and bulk attenuation have been evaluated from transmission measurements. These values were used to compute theoretical Lamb mode wavenumbers which are consistent with the experimental ones obtained with the SVD-based approach.