Doctors in Scotland are using ultrasound to help patients with severe bone fractures, and finding it speeds recovery time by more than one-third. The ultrasonic pulses induce cell vibration, which doctors say stimulates bone regeneration and healing.
The technology is similar to the type used on pregnant women to image growing fetuses, but it uses a different sound frequency and a different pulse rate, according to the BBC. Patient Gary Denham received the treatment for a shattered ankle he sustained after falling 20 feet. "It's got a wee strap and that goes round where the break was," he told the BBC.
A water-based gel is applied to a transducer like the type seen above, which then goes inside the strap and stays there for 20 minutes. The patient doesn't feel anything, but the sound waves penetrate tissue to stimulate cellular activity.
Typically, Denham's type of injury would take six to 12 months to heal properly — if it does at all — but his foot healed after four months, according to his physician, Dr. Angus MacLean. He said evidence suggests the ultrasound speeds up healing by about 40 percent.
Scottish doctors first developed ultrasound as a diagnostic tool in the 1950s, using adapted sonar technology from Glasgow's Western Infirmary, the BBC explains. It's now used for a wide range of diagnostic and therapeutic purposes — we've seen ultrasound used to heal punctured lungs, for instance, and it has the potential to break up blood clots, among other uses. But the Glasgow group is the first we've seen to use it for bone regeneration.
Apparently the treatment remains fairly expensive, so for now it's only being used in complex fractures like Denham's, the BBC says. But as ultrasound devices get smaller and cheaper, future fractures may be much faster to heal.
"...evidence suggests the ultrasound speeds up healing by about 40 percent...", That is wonderful medical science!
Sounds like something that might be useful to prevent bone problems in space too
I wonder if along with raising regeneration rates, it raises cancer risk as well. Is it possible that this could work too well?
The alien Borg’s would use this type of technology on its captives. They put 10 of these rotating around a skull of a human. In short time as the bone begins to fuse together and grow thicker, they have their captive spilling the beans in no time. If the Borg would do this torture technique to long, it does make pudding of the brain of the captive.
Ultrasound for the purpose of fostering bone/nonunion fracture healing has been utilized for several years by the medical industry now. I'm not sure whether this researcher is trying to apply this to Evidence Based Medicine/Practice and establish this as proven treatment supported by research or as an informative statement to the public.
I broke my leg back in 2007 and it was later that year I was given a device just like this to help speed up bone growth. I'm not sure if it did much though.
Ive received this treatment in the past for broken arm...they are late
scott_t that's a awesome picture you have there where did you get it .please.
@dorin: Its from the cover of Protector by Larry Niven
@scott_t I'm a bit nervous, mostly because of your avatar...
-Spouting a fountain of nonsense since 1995-
this is a relatively OLD use for Ultrasound.
POPSCI, is this April 1st.. ?? i don't get it.. what's new? and where's the bit about "they've been doing this since nineteen-ninety-blank but the twist is now they've found that such and such a method makes it work such and how better and can be used on who's a new patient than before"
i've found better tech journalism on twitter... yeash!
lol @ Q.
The people of the world only divide into two kinds, One sort with brains who hold no religion, The other with religion and no brain.
- Abu-al-Ala al-Marri
I see you have met the BORG.
you obviously don't know about medical diagnostic or therapeutic devices so let me put this easy. Ultrasound= sound waves NOT X-rays. its like sonar in sense. that's why its safe and they use it on babies, ever notice why pregnant women don't get X-rays?? X-rays lead to DNA change, ultrasound doesn't. SO ultrasound DOES NOT increase the chance of cancer
Honey! That new electric shaver does not cute hair and sure makes my jaw feel stiff!
Honey! That new electric shaver does not cut hair and sure makes my jaw feel stiff!
This is old news. Exogen is a company that made devices for ultra sound bone healing almost a decade back. They were bought over by Smith & Nephew.
Check out the work of Clint Rubin in Stony Brook.
@ scott... Dr. Stephen Judex does work on bone regeneration using ultrasound for treating bone loss in space....
you are right..it is a great idea!