A new technology to help identify microfractures in bones is being tested by researchers at two different universities in Maryland. By combining spectral CT imaging and a target-specific nanoparticle, microfractures can be viewed in color.
"Microfractures are tiny 'cracks' in a bone caused by strenuous activities or minor accidents,” said corresponding study author Dr. Dipanjan Pan, a professor in chemical, biochemical and environmental engineering at UMBC, and professor in pediatrics and diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. " If the force applied by this manner exceeds the strength of that bone it may result in weakening of the bone, eventually resulting in a complete bone breakage or macro fracture. If not detected early, this can lead to permanent damage, requiring surgery or other long term expensive intervention.”
“GPS particles” or nanoparticles developed by Pan and his team are the source of these marks. They are programmed to navigate and attach specifically to areas where microcracks are present. Hafnium is the elemental component of the nanoparticle and it’s composition is detectable to x-rays. It generates a signal that creates visibility of the cracks and is stable enough for use in living creatures. The substance is safely secreted from the body.
The research is based on an x-ray technique developed at MARS, a New Zealand-based enterprise which conducts CT scans with hafnium particles. The technology’s research was conducted at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. MARS used this line of research and CERN technology to produce the first 3D color x-ray system. The advanced CT scanner can generate images with more than 8,000 times more information than standard human-scale CTs.
The technique could likely be used to identify more serious issues, according to the research. It’s expected to be used in general medicine, orthopedics and sports medicine clinics. Clinical trials could begin as early at 2020.
Pan said, “Photon counting CT/spectral CT is rapidly evolving as a next-generation X-ray imaging technique, although currently under research and development, both within academia and by major imaging modality industries. Hafnium-based other agents are being clinically evaluated as radiation therapeutics in humans. Availability of human scanners are anticipated in the very near future."
At Atlantis Worldwide, we’re always excited to hear about new developments in medical imaging. While this new technology is not yet available, if you are in the market for medical imaging equipment, be sure to talk with one of our experts to see if a used or refurbished solution could fit the needs of your practice, clinic, hospital or medical facility. Contact Us Today!
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Meet the author: Vikki Harmonay