Novel Imagining Technique Could Prevent Bone Damage

CBCT/CMOS can image trabecular bone more easily than the current method.

Researchers in a recent study created a novel imaging technology that can measure bone health at a microscopic level and can potentially detect osteoarthritis in its early stages.

“The technology we are developing allows us to see very fine detail in the mesh-like microstructure of bone - known as trabecular bone - which currently can't be assessed in patients,” said researcher Wojciech B. Zbijewski, PhD. “This could help us detect bone diseases in their initial stages and help with development of new preventive therapies. For example, there is growing evidence that early stages of osteoarthritis involve changes in trabecular bone, so if we can detect such change, a patient could potentially avoid painful knee replacement surgery by getting treatment before the cartilage was irreversibly damaged.”

Osteoarthritis occurs after joint damage and can lead to damage of the cartilage surrounding the joint. This can also cause pain and stiffness.

In the study, which was presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine, researchers created a special cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) system that used complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) detectors.

This device is portable, patients can stand while being imaged, and it uses lower doses traditional computed tomography (CT). It can also provide high spatial resolution and can detect smaller details, which is important since it can enhance the ability to image trabecular bone, according to the study.

Researchers imaged the hand of a human cadaver and 25 pelvic bone samples with the new CBCT/CMOS technology.

They found that results from the new method correlated with micro-CT, the standard method for imaging trabecular bone. Micro-CTs can only be used for biopsies and not whole joints.

Researchers believe that the studies using CBCT/CMOS in patients will begin next year.

If additional studies support their findings, bone health could be assessed after injury and during treatment. This imagining device could also be used to develop treatments to prevent bone damage, the researchers concluded.