New knee-scanning procedures will provide more accurate diagnosis methods for doctors

New knee-scanning procedures developed by Australia's Monash University will provide more accurate diagnosis methods for doctors and save patients time and money.

The new method, which harnesses the power of MRI (medical resonance imaging), is set to revolutionise the future of knee scans.

Associate Professor Flavia Cicuttini and her team have been researching alternative diagnosis methods for osteoarthritis (OA) since 1999. The new technique works to measure loss of knee cartilage and is particularly useful in diagnosis of the disease.

Until now, the only economically viable way of determining cartilage loss in the knee joint was though an X-ray.

"Of course high profile footballers and sports stars have always had the opportunity to have full MRI scans on their knees, but for assessment of wear and tear in joints at around $600 a pop, it is far too expensive," Dr Cicuttini said.

"X-rays, although good for making the diagnosis of osteoarthritis, only look at joint cartilage indirectly since we can only see bone on an X-ray. They are also inaccurate for measuring change as they can only detect big changes over a long period of time."

Dr Cicuttini said the team has mastered the new technique and have now tested several hundred patients.

"The ulitimate goal is for people to be able to use the technology as a long-term preventative tool and indicator of OA," she said.

Osteoarthritis is the leading cause of pain and disability in the community and the most common musculoskeletal disorder affecting Australians. Most cases of OA are found in middle-aged and older members of the community and more than 90 per cent of knee and hip replacements, which equates to about 40,000 new cases every year, are caused by this degenerative joint disease.

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