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New Computer Program Measures Knee Images Faster Than Humans

January 27, 2010
Written by: , Filed in: Musculoskeletal Radiology
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A new computer program can measure a vital part of the knee in images faster than radiologists can interpret the same images, according to researchers at Ohio State University in Columbus. Scheduled to appear in an upcoming issue of Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, the study focuses on the meniscus, two C-shaped disks between the thigh and the shinbone that provide cushioning, distribute weight, and reduce friction.

Usually interpretation of such images, which requires radiologists to measure certain parts of an image  with rulers, takes up to 20 minutes. The computer program does the same work with the same or higher level accuracy in two to four minutes, and may become even faster.

“Our ambitious goal is to change the way radiology is practiced,” said senior study author Metin Gurcan. “Right now, radiologists don’t have the tools to make more than crude measurements of most images. So one thing we are doing is providing those tools.”

The researchers think monitoring the meniscus—and eventually, other parts of the knee—more precisely over time could help doctors predict people’s risks for developing osteoarthritis, a crippling disease that affects some 27 million people in the U.S.

As next steps, the study team is working to automate the entire process along with developing programs to automate measurements of other parts of the knee.

“The solution is not to get thousands of people to do the work. The solution is to rely on computers,” said lead study author Mark Swanson, a medical student at Ohio State. “The computer is better at some things than people are.”

The research was supported by the National Center for Research Resources, the National Institutes of Health Roadmap Training Program in Clinical Research, and the National Library of Medicine.

Related FREE report: MRI of the Knee: New Technical Developments

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