Ultrasound can be used to predict bone fracture healing says leading medical research charity | Action Medical Research

Ultrasound can be used to predict bone fracture healing says leading medical research charity

16 March 1999
A broken leg is every footballer’s nightmare and the decision on when to return to competition could be the biggest in a player’s career. Now scientists funded by one of the UK’s leading medical research charities, Action Research, could be moving a step closer to a new technique which tells a surgeon the exact nature of a bone fracture, its likely response to treatment - and a precise indication of when it is healed. The technique, being investigated by Dr James Cunningham and Mr Martin Gargan at the University of Bristol, involves ultrasound, sending high frequency sound waves along the bone and establishing a quantifiable reading which can be compared against a similar reading in a healthy bone. In the future these {bold}Action Researchers{/bold} hope that ultrasound assessment of bone healing will prove an essential tool for the orthopaedic surgeon, indicating whether or not intervention is necessary. The advantage of this method over those used in the past is that it is completely non- invasive and does not involve using radiation. In other words, when a patient undergoes ultrasonic assessment, they would be safe from the risk of refracture and from the risks associated with radiation. Clinical studies have demonstrated the feasibility of this method to detect osteoporosis. The next step will be to create a computer simulation of the problem before the development of a completely automatic system to be used in clinical trials. Anne Luther, Action Research’s Director General commented about the studies. ``If ultrasonics can be used to predict fracture healing this will not only be good news for sportsmen and women but for many people who suffer bone deterioration due to osteoporosis and ageing.’’ For further information and interview opportunities, please contact Victoria Heaton in the Action Research press office on 01403 210406 Fax: 01403 210541.
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