Touching Lives - September 2004
Hi-tech solution for assessing bone healing
However, the 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 objects obscure the healing area of the bone and can produce spurious signals — known as artefacts — that seriously distort the image.
Thanks to funding of £130,000 from Action Medical Research, a team of researchers is developing new computer software which aims to remove these artefacts produced by metal implants, and allow more accurate interpretation of CT data. Better analysis of bone healing adjacent to the metalwork would allow doctors to assess the healing process in more detail, improving treatment for patients undergoing such orthopaedic surgery.
The three-year project is based at the John Radcliffe Hospital and Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, both in Oxford. The research team has recently reported to Action Medical Research the exciting news that they believe they have successfully developed a way of overcoming the artefacts caused by the metal implant, allowing for clear three-dimensional CT images of the bone. For the remaining few months of the project the researchers plan to optimise and improve the software so that it is easier for health professionals to use.