How Likely You Are to Break a Bone

X-ray only reveals the mineral
density of a bone, not the strength
© NCI Visuals Online

The new laser imaging technique may be used to predict the likelihood of young women developing osteoporosis in later life. Lead researcher Dr. Edward Draper of Imperial College London said: "Traditionally, the only way to predict bone strength has been through X-rays, but these can only measure part of the strength of the bone. Using this new technique we can get a more complete measurement, allowing us to predict better the risk of fractures as a result of osteoporosis."

Although X-rays can be used to measure bone strength, they can only be used to measure bone mineral density, which only accounts for part of the strength. The new Raman spectroscopic technique allows scientists to measure the collagen, which also affects bone strength by eliminating the spectral components of overlying tissues.

The scientists plan to develop this work into a test for women during adolescence to predict the likelihood of osteoporosis developing in later life. By taking steps earlier on, such as increasing exercise to build up bone mass, this could prevent the need for more interventions such as Risedronate (Actonel) later.

"We hope we can further develop this technique, and use it as part of a national screening programme which hopefully could be done in any GP's surgery”, Draper added. “By identifying the risk of any problems developing early enough, this could not only make an enormous difference to the health of individuals, but could help the NHS by negating the need for more extreme and costly interventions later".; Source: Imperial College London