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Human Research Program

Combined Scanning Confocal Ultrasound Diagnostic and Treatment System for Bone Quality Assessment and Fracture Healing

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

The objectives of this study are to develop a combined diagnostic and treatment ultrasound technology for early prediction of bone disorder and guided acceleration of fracture healing, using SCAN imaging and low-intensity pulse ultrasound. The technology will target to the critical skeletal sites, where may be significantly affected by disuse osteopenia and potentially at the risk of fracture. The research team has been focused on the technology development of the SCAN system and on determining interrelationship between ultrasound parameters and bone's structural and strength properties in a quantitative manner. The results have demonstrated the feasibility and efficacy of SCAN for assessing bone's quality in animal, human cadaver bone samples, and in vivo human subjects (e.g., bed rest). 13 peer-reviewed journal papers and more than 36 conference short papers were published in this period directly derived from this work. Musculoskeletal complications induced by age-related diseases like osteoporosis, and in long-term disuse osteopenia such as a lack of microgravity during extended space missions and long-term bed rest, represent a key health problem. Such a skeletal disorder changes both the structural and strength properties of bone, and the latter plays a critic role in ultimately leading to fracture. Early diagnosis of progressive bone loss or poor bone quality would allow prompt treatment and thus will dramatically reduce the risk of bone fracture. While most of the osteoporotic fractures occur in cancellous bone, non-invasive assessment of trabecular strength and stiffness is extremely important in evaluating bone quality. Ultrasound has also been shown therapeutic potentials to accelerate fracture healing. We are able to develop a SCAN system combined with therapeutic ultrasound capable of generating acoustic images at the regions of interest for identifying the strength of trabecular bone, in which the system is capable of generating non-invasive, high-resolution ultrasound (US) attenuation and velocity maps of bone, and thus determining the relationship between ultrasonic specific parameters and bone mineral density (BMD), and bone strength and bone's physical properties (i.e., stiffness and modulus). The ultrasound resolution and sensitivity are significantly improved by its configuration, compared to the existing technology. Developed prototype of SCAN is successfully used in the bedrest subjects and clinical test (Stony Brook University). A fast scan mode (~2.5 min) and a surface topology mapping technology using scanning ultrasound are developed and capable of determining calcaneus bone thickness accurately and hence enhancing the accuracy of UV measurement. Ultrasound treatment for progressive bone loss is also initiated in this year's research. More »

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