A fracture rate of up to 39 percent has been reported in post-radiosurgery patients who receive high doses of radiation, he says. The potentially devastating consequences of fractures include disabling pain, limited mobility and incontinence.
"It's a growing concern for radiology oncologists because there's not much that can be done medically to reverse those problems," he says, noting that advances in SRS technology outpace the research on its complex effects on bone.
"We began looking at the history of radiosurgery, and as algorithms and instruments have become more refined in the computation of doses and the delivery of radiation, the number of required treatments has decreased to a single procedure," he says. "The issue of what happens to bone strength when the treatment goes from six lower-grade doses, each a month apart, to a single high-grade dose is an area practically void of research over the past 30 years."
Gauging mechanical strength of bone
Richer's focus for the project is on gauging the mechanical strength of bone and how it is affected.
"We're looking at nondestructive modalities to determine bone strength," specifically ultrasound technology, says Richer. While a bone mineral density test provides an accurate picture of calcium and other minerals in a segment of bone, it doesn't measure the actual strength of the bone, he says.
The project builds on Richer's previous research to develop an ultrasound instrument that determines the elasticity of human bone. The instrument is under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
An abstract of the research by Richer and his collaborators has been accepted by the Acoustical Society of America, an international scientific society for sound-related fields, including biomedical ultrasound, for presentation at its biannual meeting in November. "Reduction of Ultrasound Propagation Velo
|Contact: Margaret Allen|
Southern Methodist University