A new tool is being developed that automatically searches medical images for early signs of osteoporosis in the spine by identifying fractures, and could help reduce the number of future potentially fatal hip fractures.
Scientists from the University of Manchester (UK) will partner with Optasia Medical (Cheadle, UK) and Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS [National Health Service] Foundation Trust (CMFT) to develop specialty computer software that can be easily integrated into radiology departments in hospitals.
Osteoporosis occurs when patients have too little bone and are more prone to suffering fractures particularly in the spine, hips, and wrist. Tim Cootes, a professor of imaging, from the Institute of Population Health, based at the University of Manchester, and his colleagues have designed a cutting-edge technology that locates and analyzes bones in medical images, and specifically, spine fractures.
New funding will allow the investigators to work with the NHS and Optasia Medical to make it possible for computers to search for fractures in the spine. The system will be fully automatic and integrated with radiography equipment used in hospitals.
Prof. Judith Adams, a radiologist and one of the world’s leading specialists on osteoporosis based at CMFT and the University of Manchester, said, “Vertebral fractures are an early sign of osteoporosis and indicate a patient is at significantly increased risk of future fractures and should be treated—but over half of these spine fractures go unnoticed by patients as they cause no symptoms and are under-diagnosed on medical images. By identifying these fractures sooner we can refer patients for further assessment and treatment for osteoporosis and ultimately reduce the number of future fractures, including potentially fatal hip fractures.”
The software will be developed in conjunction with Optasia Medical and piloted at Central Manchester NHS Foundation Trust. If successful, it will be rolled out worldwide.
Dr. Anthony Holmes, CEO at Optasia Medical, said, “An osteoporotic vertebral fracture doubles the risk of future hip fracture, and yet they are hugely under-diagnosed and under-reported. We’re excited to be collaborating with world-leading academic and clinical partners in addressing this enormous problem.”
University of Manchester