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Device to detect arthritis

14th July 2010

Researchers have moved nearer toward producing a device that will enable family doctors to detect osteoarthritis.

The device could enable GPs to detect the condition and monitor its progression by listening to the noises emitted by the knees of people who suffer from it.

The technique, called acoustic emission, was discovered by the team at Lancaster University and UCLan, led by Professor John Goodacre and Professor Lik-Kwan Shark.

The method is routinely used in the engineering industry to detect unsafe buildings and bridges but can also be adapted to pinpoint joint degeneration.

Over a period of two years, the research team carried out a study covering 50 people.

Their findings show that the sound waves made by the knees of healthy people were different to those with osteoarthritis of the knee.

Professor Goodacre, head of Postgraduate Medicine at Lancaster’s new School of Health and Medicine, and an honorary consultant rheumatologist at Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We found that that by measuring and analysing high frequency sounds released within knee joints during movement we could tell whether or not the person had osteoarthritis of the knee, and also their age group.”

The research, funded by Arthritis Research UK, could lead to the production of a small, portable piece of equipment which could be used easily by GPs, hospital doctors and nurses to assess patients with knee osteoarthritis regularly to see whether the knee is changing or responding to treatment.

The team is now looking a further testing and validating the equipment.

 

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