Achilles: A New Method in Testing for Osteoporosis

Many places around the world cannot have DXA scanning available for their entire population, for cost and logistical reasons, however a new technology has been developed to address this

The Difficulty of DXA

Though the Dual-energy X-ray Absorption (DXA) scan is considered the gold standard for bone mass density testing, it is often an expensive test to order. As X-ray technology is used in the devices they are both heavy, and large. They must be in shielded rooms, and must include shielding within the actual devices to both focus the two beams of radiation, and protect the technicians who are administering the test form the repeated exposures to the radiation. This shielding and danger make the devices for performing the scans, difficult to move, and expensive to administer.

The Achilles

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 13:  GE Chairman and...

GE Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt participates in a discussion on 'The Future of Manufacturing: Growing American Competitiveness' during GE's four-day event 'American Competitiveness: What Works,' at the Andrew Mellon Auditorium February 13, 2012 in Washington, DC. As part of its 'Hire Our Heroes' program, General Electric Co. says it will hire 5,000 veterans over the next five years and invest $580 million to expand its aviation business. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

General Electric’s Healthcare Division has potentially developed a much more convenient alternative that can bring the cost of testing down to levels where people in rural areas, and in countries that lack the resources to purchase DXA scanning devices, can have a viable alternative. This device is called the Achilles, a bone mass density measuring ultrasonometer. It is a quantitative ultrasound (QUS) device designed to assess the risk for osteoporosis. Unlike the DXA, this device is portable, as it does not require the same precaution and shielding which increases the places it can be used, and cuts down on the weight making it easier to move. When used, the ultrasound energy passes through the heel (OS calcines) of the patient, and then reports bone density and assess fracture risk. Individuals that are found to be at risk of fracture can then be referred to a DXA scanning facility for a formal diagnosis of osteoporosis.

Application Worldwide

The country of India is an example of a population of over one billion people where one in eight urban dwelling males and one in three urban dwelling females above the age of 45 have osteoporosis, putting them at high risk of hip and spinal fractures. Dr Sachin Saoji, an owner of the Achilles device and an orthopedic surgeon in Aurangabad states, “I get a lot of osteoporosis patients, more than 100 cases per month.” and further states that, “(osteoporosis) is a very under-diagnosed disease in India due to lack of facilities in terms of medical equipment.”



GE Healthcare.

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