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Friday 19th July 2019

Ultrasound used to treat fractures

12th October 2011

Doctors at a Scottish hospital have developed ultrasound to use it to heal broken bones.


Glasgow Royal Infirmary, where ultrasound was pioneered as a diagnostic tool in the 1950s, has now started to use ultrasound technology in its fracture clinic where it has been shown to speed up recovery times for patients with severe fractures.

Orthopaedic surgeon Angus MacLean said: “We use it for difficult fractures, the ones with problems with healing, and it’s a very simple, painless treatment that we can give.

“It’s a very interesting scientific development and there’s good evidence that it just vibrates the cells a little which then stimulates healing and regeneration in the bone.”

Ultrasound was developed half a century ago by a team of specialists in Glasgow led by Professor Ian Donald, who produced the first images of the body using a technology adapted from sonar.

In the decades since, it has become one of the most common medical technologies, often used on pregnant women.

One patient to benefit is apprentice engineer Gary Denham was offered ultrasound treatment after he fell 20ft from a water tank and broke his ankle so badly there were concerns his foot may have to be amputated.

But after the ultrasound treatment, his leg had healed within four months.

Mr MacLean added that before ultrasound was used in this way, he would expect to see this kind of injury healing with some difficulty, taking 6-12 months with ongoing pain for the patient.

“The evidence suggests that ultrasound speeds things up by about 40%,” he said.


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