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New x-ray technique images cartilage, may lead to earlier diagnosis of osteoarthritis

An innovative x-ray technique called diffraction enhanced imaging (DEI), which produces images with about 27 times greater contrast than regular x-ray images, could be an extremely valuable tool to physicians trying to detect osteoarthritis, a degenerative disease of the cartilage, while the condition is in its early stages of development. Images taken using DEI, clearly show cartilage, whereas with conventional x-rays, the cartilage is invisible.

Using DEI, the researchers, led by Dean Chapman, associate professor of physics at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), and Klaus Kuettner, Chairman of the Department of Biochemistry at Rush Medical College of Rush-Presbyterian Saint Lukes Medical Center in Chicago, have been able to not only image cartilage, but to correlate certain features in their DEI x-ray images with various disease stages of osteoarthritis, a degenerative cartilage joint disease that affects more than half the nations elderly. The research was published in the March issue of Osteoarthritis & Cartilage.

Since cartilage is a tissue that cannot be imaged by conventional radiography, this could be an important new tool for diagnosing osteoarthritis much earlier in the disease cycle, says Chapman . Today, conventional x-ray diagnosis of osteoarthritis shows only that bones are getting closer and closer together as the cartilage deteriorates. Chapman and Kuettner believe that DEI can fill the x-ray imaging void in detecting cartilage degeneration earlier.

The DEI images taken used synchrotron radiation from the National Synchotron Light Source at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York. Sychotron radiation is also produced by the Advanced Photon Source (APS) at Argonne National Labs in Illinois. The APS produces high energy x-rays of a single energy, or wavelength instead of the broader-energy beams of conventional x-ray machines. The x-rays are accelerated through a gigantic ring using magnets before they can be
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Contact: Sharon Parmet
parmet@iit.edu
312-567-7997
Illinois Institute of Technology
17-Mar-2002


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