Methods for Assessing the Condition of Bone In-Vivo Using Non-Ionizing Radiation
Background: The ability to assess the health and condition of bone tissue is important since bone tissue viability is closely linked to composition, structure, and physiology. Traditional methods for assessing the condition of bone involve the use of X-rays (via electron density) and ultrasound (via tissue density). Several methods are available to measure bone density, the most widely used technique is DEXA (Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry). Newer techniques such as ultrasound appear to be a more cost-effective method of screening bone mass. However, the combination of these two methods (DEXA and ultrasound) does not improve the prediction of fracture and only provide "density" measurements. Conventional methods such as these cannot easily assess bone optical properties and provide information on the health or disease state of bone tissue. Technology: University of California researchers have developed an optical method to characterize bone tissue viability. The optical properties of bone are strongly influenced by composition, structure and physiology. Disease alters these bone characteristics, and thus bone optical properties are parameters that gauge bone disease progression. The method involves 1) the use of non-ionizing radiation including (but not limited to) the visible, near-infrared, and infrared spectral regions to measure and monitor the health or disease state of bone tissue. The optical methods offer rapid, non-invasively quantifiable parameters for characterizing many types of biological tissues, including bone. This method emphasizes the use of non-ionizing spectra as a non-invasive probe of bone tissue. The optical method developed by University of California researchers is unique in its capability of delivering detailed composition related to bone structure and function. In addition, there is potential opportunity for spectroscopy to provide information that may be related to bone health that is not provided by existing methods that report only "density." Using an optical property measurement apparatus allows information to be accessed in vivo in near real time. Application: The present invention has potential applications in the area of medical diagnostics including (but not limited to): osteoporosis screening, monitoring of therapeutic efficacy of hormone therapies or other anti-osteoporosis measures, monitoring change in bone (and muscle) status resulting from microgravity and the efficacy of countermeasures for slowing or reversing the effects of microgravity, and monitoring recovery/healing/treatment of bone tissue from trauma and atrophy. This invention's unique approach (measuring optical properties of bone with the use of non-ionizing radiation) provides a novel method for simultaneous determination of structural, biochemical, and functional changes in bone. In addition, the instrumentation has the potential to provide a cost-effective, compact device (compared to existing methods such as ultrasound and DEXA) that can be utilized for analysis of not only bone tissue, but other tissues as well.
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