Osteoarthritis (oa): Better Outcome Through Technology

by Freddic - Date: 2008-08-26 - Word Count: 323 Share This!

A breakthrough imaging technology may now enable doctors with to diagnose osteoarthritis (OA) so early that they could prevent or reduce permanent damage to patients' joints.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint condition causing inflammation, swelling, pain, and stiffness. It's often treated with musculoskeletal system drugs and/or surgery.

Recently, scientists from New York University (NYU) reported about the new technology at the 236th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, (ACS) that helps diagnose the disease early.

If osteoarthritis can be diagnosed during initial stages with the aid of the new technology, then doctors might be able to prevent or reduce permanent damage by means such as dietary supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin, which have shown to stop further joint degeneration. On the contrary, the present methods of diagnoses do not catch the condition until it has reached advanced stages and by that time joint damage may already have occurred.

The New Technology

The new method uses a modified form of magnetic resonance imaging to assess the concentration of a polymer known as glycosaminogycan (GAG) that holds lots of water and gives cartilage its tough, elastic properties. Additionally, GAG is a recognized biomarker for both osteoarthritis and degenerative disc disease. A low concentration of GAG is known to be linked to the onset of osteoarthritis.

Further, the diagnostic 'tags' i.e. the hydrogen atoms attached to the GAGs when emit a signal, is picked up by an MRI machine and the concentration of GAG is determined, thus aiding the assessment of cartilage health.

Additionally, the technology could even be used to improve upon the existing cartilage-boosting drugs. But at present it's difficult assess the efficacy of these pharmaceutical drugs without the aid of a method to measure their effects on cartilage.

The new method positively shows promise, and if it can really help prevent painful surgeries and procedures then it might be great if diagnostic facilities made use of it for the benefit of patients.

Related Tags: technology, treatment, drugs, osteoarthritis, oa, mri, pharma, imaging

Fred is a journalist with 7 years of experience. Though, as a professional he's reported on myriad topics, his favorites are the auto and the healthcare industry. Two platforms he's previously worked on are Themedica and Automotive-Online. He now blogs at: Smiling Health.

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