Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New technology may identify tiny strains in body tissues before injuries occur

27.08.2014

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have developed algorithms to identify weak spots in tendons, muscles and bones prone to tearing or breaking. The technology, which needs to be refined before it is used in patients, one day may help pinpoint minor strains and tiny injuries in the body’s tissues long before bigger problems occur.

“Tendons are constantly stretching as muscles pull on them, and bones also bend or compress as we carry out everyday activities,” said senior investigator Stavros Thomopoulos, PhD, professor of orthopaedic surgery. “Small cracks or tears can result from these loads and lead to major injuries. Understanding how these tears and cracks develop over time therefore is important for diagnosing and tracking injuries.”

To that end, Thomopoulos and his colleagues developed a way to visualize and even predict spots where tissues are weakened. To accomplish this, they stretched tissues and tracked what happened as their shapes changed or became distorted. 

The paper’s first author, John J. Boyle, a graduate student in biomedical engineering, combined mechanical engineering fundamentals with image-analysis techniques to create the algorithms, which were tested in different materials and in animal models.

“If you imagine stretching Silly Putty or a swimming cap with a picture on it, as you pull, the picture becomes distorted,” Boyle said. “This allows us to track how the material responds to an external force.”

“As you pull and stretch the plastic wrap, eventually tears begin to emerge,” he explained. “The new algorithm allowed us to find the places where the tears were beginning to form and to track them as they extended. Older algorithms are not as good at finding and tracking localized strains as the material stretches.”

In fact, one of the two new algorithms is 1,000 times more accurate than older methods at quantifying very large stretches near tiny cracks and tears, the research showed. And a second algorithm has the ability to predict where cracks and failures are likely to form.

“This extra accuracy is critical for quantifying large strains,” said Guy Genin, PhD, professor of mechanical engineering and co-senior investigator on the study. “Commercial algorithms that estimate strain often are much less sensitive, and they are prone to detecting noise that can arise from the algorithm itself rather than from the material being examined. The new algorithms can distinguish the noise from true regions of large strains.” 

Thomopoulos, who also is a professor of biomedical engineering and of mechanical engineering, works with Genin to study the shoulder's rotator cuff, a group of tendons and muscles that connect the upper arm to the shoulder blade. They want to learn why some surgeries to repair rotator cuff injuries ultimately fail. Their goal is to increase the odds that the tissue in the shoulder will heal following surgery, and they believe the new algorithms could help them get closer to that goal. 

How soon the new algorithms could be used in patients depends on getting better images of the body’s tissues. Current imaging techniques, such as MRI and ultrasound, lack the required clarity and resolution.

Genin also explained that although the goal of the current study is to better understand how forces at work on human tissue cause injury and stress, the algorithms also could help engineers identify vulnerable parts of buildings and other structures. Our muscles and bones, he said, are influenced by the same strains that affect those structures.

“Whether it’s a bridge or a tendon, it’s vital to understand the ways that physical forces cause structures and tissues to deform so that we can identify the onset of failures and eventually predict them,” he said.

In the long run, they want to use the algorithms to prevent additional injuries following surgery to repair knees, shoulders and other tissues. They also said it may be possible some day to predict problems before they occur.

The group, which applied for a provisional patent earlier this year, hopes the algorithms will be useful to researchers in the medical and engineering fields.

The research is available online Aug. 27 in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, which publishes research at the nexus of the physical and life sciences.

This work was funded by the National Institute on Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). NIH grant number U01EB016422. 

Boyle JJ, Kume M, Wyczalkowski MA, Taber LA, Pless RB, Xia Y, Genin GM, Thomopoulos S. Simple and accurate methods for quantifying deformation, disruption and development in biological tissues. Journal of the Royal Society Interface, vol. 11 (100) 20140685. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsif.2014.0685, published online Aug. 27, 2014.

Washington University School of Medicine’s 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient-care institutions in the nation, currently ranked sixth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.

The School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis focuses intellectual efforts through a new convergence paradigm and builds on strengths, particularly as applied to medicine and health, energy and environment, entrepreneurship and security. With 91 tenured/tenure-track and 40 additional full-time faculty, 1,300 undergraduate students, 750 graduate students and more than 23,000 alumni, we are working to leverage our partnerships with academic and industry partners — across disciplines and across the world — to contribute to solving the greatest global challenges of the 21st century.

Jim Dryden | Eurek Alert!
Further information:
https://news.wustl.edu/news/Pages/27287.aspx

Further reports about: Medicine algorithm cracks identify injuries muscles strains structures surgery techniques tiny

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Live imaging reveals how wound healing influences cancer
01.07.2015 | EMBO

nachricht Using bacterial 'fight clubs' to find new drugs
30.06.2015 | Vanderbilt University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: X-rays and electrons join forces to map catalytic reactions in real-time

New technique combines electron microscopy and synchrotron X-rays to track chemical reactions under real operating conditions

A new technique pioneered at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory reveals atomic-scale changes during catalytic reactions in real...

Im Focus: Iron: A biological element?

Think of an object made of iron: An I-beam, a car frame, a nail. Now imagine that half of the iron in that object owes its existence to bacteria living two and a half billion years ago.

Think of an object made of iron: An I-beam, a car frame, a nail. Now imagine that half of the iron in that object owes its existence to bacteria living two and...

Im Focus: Thousands of Droplets for Diagnostics

Researchers develop new method enabling DNA molecules to be counted in just 30 minutes

A team of scientists including PhD student Friedrich Schuler from the Laboratory of MEMS Applications at the Department of Microsystems Engineering (IMTEK) of...

Im Focus: Bionic eye clinical trial results show long-term safety, efficacy vision-restoring implant

Patients using Argus II experienced significant improvement in visual function and quality of life

The three-year clinical trial results of the retinal implant popularly known as the "bionic eye," have proven the long-term efficacy, safety and reliability of...

Im Focus: Lasers for Fast Internet in Space – Space Technology from Aachen

On June 23, the second Sentinel mission was launched from the space mission launch center in Kourou. A critical component of Aachen is on board. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT and Tesat-Spacecom have jointly developed the know-how for space-qualified laser components. For the Sentinel mission the diode laser pump module of the Laser Communication Terminal LCT was planned and constructed in Aachen in cooperation with the manufacturer of the LCT, Tesat-Spacecom, and the Ferdinand Braun Institute.

After eight years of preparation, in the early morning of June 23 the time had come: in Kourou in French Guiana, the European Space Agency launched the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

World Conference on Regenerative Medicine in Leipzig: Last chance to submit abstracts until 2 July

25.06.2015 | Event News

World Conference on Regenerative Medicine: Abstract Submission has been extended to 24 June

16.06.2015 | Event News

MUSE hosting Europe’s largest science communication conference

11.06.2015 | Event News

 
Latest News

Offshore wind park Westermost Rough officially inaugurated

01.07.2015 | Press release

Siemens Velaro train wins "Red Dot" award

01.07.2015 | Awards Funding

Liquids on Fibers - Slipping or Flowing?

01.07.2015 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>