Oxford scientists are developing state-of-the-art computer software to help medics assess bone repair much more accurately.
The new innovative work, funded by leading medical research charity Action Research, could have a lasting benefit on a wide range of patients and whether their fractures or surgery are healing sufficiently.
The research team is leading the three-year project at the city’s John Radcliffe Hospital and the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre Oxford, where they have been awarded almost £130,000.
Lead researcher Mr Stephen Watt-Smith, who is based at the hospital’s Oral and Maxillofacial Department at the Nuffield Department of Surgery, says: ‘The research is especially relevant to children following spinal and limb corrective surgery, the elderly following hip replacements and those with difficult non-uniting fractures that are not healing well.
‘Far greater detail should be available to assess the healing process and improve treatment.’
Currently, body scans used to produce images of bones can be difficult to interpret if metal implants, screws and plates have been inserted during surgery. The metal obscures the healing area of the bone, meaning the results of an examination can be confusing and fuzzy.
The Action Researchers aim to produce special computer programs to remove interference produced by metal implants. This should enable the junction between bone and metal to be seen in all dimensions on CT (computed tomography) scans.
The grant will enable the team to employ a highly experienced scientist with CT engineering and computer skills to develop software that is innovative, robust and user-friendly.
Action Research is famous for pioneering hip replacement surgery and bringing ultrasound into the medical world, among many other breakthroughs. John Grounds, director of campaigns and communications, says: ‘We pride ourselves on our track record of investing in excellence. This new project has a very real chance of making a positive impact in a clinical setting and helping improve patients’ management and treatment.’
Action Research, which is fast approaching its 50th anniversary, is dedicated to helping overcome disease and disability for children, families and the elderly across the UK. The charity’s Touching Lives Campaign aims to raise £2m for vital medical research and more details can be found at www.action.org.uk
For further information and interviews, please contact Nicole Duckworth in the Action Research press office on 01403 327403 Fax: 01403 210541, or email firstname.lastname@example.org ISDN facilities are available.
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