A New Bone Density Testing Method

Researchers are exploring a new bone density testing method that involves a needle being pushed into the shin bone.

New bone density testing method could reveal early signs of osteoporosis. (Credit: Louise Coutts, University of Southampton)

New bone density testing method could reveal early signs of osteoporosis. (Credit: Louise Coutts, University of Southampton)

A new device is being developed that can analyze the “give” or pliability of the bone. Researchers are testing the small hand-held device to build the database necessary to have enough comparison points for a conclusive analysis to be made and deployed for widespread use. Here is how the device works:

1. Local anesthetic is applied
2. The device is applied to the skin at the front of the shin (tibia bone).
3. The probe, which is a small needle is pushed through the skin, into the bone.
4. The needle retracts, and the analysis is made depending on how deep the needle can push into the bone.
Normal bone density will only allow the needle to penetrate 0.02 millimeters into the bone. If the needle penetrates, deeper at a level of 0.04 milimeters into the bone, there is significant fracture risk. The researchers have referred to this device as the “brittle bone detector.” Though this process only takes minutes, and can feel potentially less invasive, the skin is punctured. Furthermore there can be pain after the local anesthetic wears off as the nerves that line the outside of the bone (called the periosteum) can sense the damage the needle does. The experimental probe, which has been developed by U.S. firm Active Life Scientific, is showing analysis imediately. The potential of this measurement being a simple and far less expensive than DXA scans is driving the research. The hand-held probe could be available in just a few years.
Enhanced by Zemanta