A new method for more accurate assessment of osteoporosis

March 8, 2012

Laser-based measurements are proving to be a promising method for the assessment of osteoporosis. The team led by Professor Jussi Timonen has developed an ultrasound technique that use laser beams for a rapid and accurate assessment of osteoporosis.

The research is part of the and Modern Imaging Techniques Research Programme of the Academy of Finland and involves input by researchers from the Universities of Jyväskylä, Helsinki and Oulu.

There is an evident need for new measuring methods, since fractures caused by signify a considerable public health problem, and the current X-ray methods measure bone density alone and, thus, cannot reliably predict future fractures.

On an annual basis, osteoporosis causes approximately 40,000 fractures in Finland, and the related treatment costs add up to hundreds of millions of euros.

"The X-ray-based DXA method that is currently in use is expensive and, therefore, does not allow for population screening. Furthermore, there are some limitations in the accuracy of the method," says Professor Timonen from the University of Jyväskylä.

According to Timonen, ultrasound-based methods have long been developed for the purpose of creating a cost-efficient and rapid means of screening for osteoporosis. In principle, methods are more versatile than X-ray methods, but they are quite susceptible to disturbances and, therefore, have not so far produced very reliable measurements. "The measuring difficulties arise from, for instance, disturbances caused by the necessary contact between the ultrasound source and the skin, and by the layer of soft tissue on top of the bone."

The new technique being developed for the purposes of assessing osteoporosis deploys, for the first time in the case of bone, laser-based photo-acoustic methods for producing ultrasound. "We direct a suitable laser beam at the surface of the skin to produce an ultrasound pulse that will propagate along the bone. This prevents contact problems during the measurement process. Furthermore, the ultrasound pulse can be easily tailored by adjusting the laser beam. This enables us to achieve a much more accurate measurement," Timonen describes.

The next step is to turn this research into a clinical trial and, therefore, the research team is currently putting the final touches on the measurement equipment for use on test subjects.

Explore further: Simple ultrasound exam may predict osteoporosis risk

Related Stories

Simple ultrasound exam may predict osteoporosis risk

June 24, 2008

OAK BROOK, Ill. – An ultrasound exam of the heel may be able to predict if a woman is at heightened risk for fractures due to osteoporosis, according to a new multicenter study being published in the July issue of the journal ...

Math prof working on new ways to see through the human body

January 8, 2010

Thanks to medical imaging techniques such as X-ray CT, ultrasound imaging and MRI, doctors have long been able to see to varying degrees what's going on inside a patient's body, and now a Texas A&M University mathematician ...

Portable laser devices to improve disease diagnosis

September 22, 2010

Portable devices that use a laser beam to probe bones, teeth, and other parts of the body for early signs of diseases like osteoporosis and tooth decay may seem like something out of science fiction. But those devices are ...

New imaging technology predicts fracture risk

October 27, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- A new method for identifying which bones have a high risk of fracture, and for monitoring the effectiveness of new bone-strengthening drugs and techniques, has been developed by scientists at the University ...

Ultrasound being used to treat fractures

October 13, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- Ultrasound, the diagnostic tool first developed at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary in the 1950s to scan the body, is now being used in its fracture clinic to help heal fractured bones and speed up the recovery ...

Recommended for you

Zika virus may persist in the vagina days after infection

August 25, 2016

The Zika virus reproduces in the vaginal tissue of pregnant mice several days after infection, according to a study by Yale researchers. From the genitals, the virus spreads and infects the fetal brain, impairing fetal development. ...

In sub-Saharan Africa, cancer can be an infectious disease

August 26, 2016

In 1963, Irish surgeon Denis Parson Burkitt airmailed samples of an unusual jaw tumor found in Ugandan children to his colleague, Anthony Epstein, at Middlesex Hospital in London. Epstein, an expert in chicken viruses and ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.