Doctors in Scotland have taken ultrasound technology – which we commonly associate with imaging baby bumps – and used it to treat fractured bones.
For patients with really bad breaks, the tech has sped up recovery time by about 40%. BBC reports.
As a diagnostic tool, ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to produce precise images of things inside our body. It’s like sonar. And it was developed in Glasgow during the 1950s.
By emitting sound at a certain frequency and pulse, ultrasound tech can encourage cells to remove bacteria, stimulate the production of new bone cells, and help those cells to mature more rapidly.
It could become a “simple, painless treatment” for fractures that don’t heal well, according to orthopedic surgeon Angus MacLean at Glasgow's Royal Infirmary's fracture clinic.
For ultrasound patient Gary Denham, who fell 20 feet from a water tank and broke his ankle into 8 pieces (pictured), the treatment healed his leg after 4 months.
"It's got a wee strap and that goes round where the break was," Denham says. "I put some gel on the probe and then I just put the probe inside the strap and then just basically leave it for 20 minutes."
Watch a video here.
For now, the technique is still prohibitively expensive – around $1,500 per patient, making it only cost effective for people with really complex breaks.
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