Early-warning device could test for osteoporosis

A handheld device for diagnosing the early signs of osteoporosis could be available for clinical use within five years.

Unlike existing methods of assessing bone fragility, which measure bone density using X-rays, the device is designed to measure the ability of bone tissue to prevent small cracks growing into full-blown fractures.

It does this by pressing a microscopic needle a tiny distance into the top layer of bone. Measured electronically, the amount of penetration indicates how fragile the bone tissue is and therefore the risk of experiencing an osteoporotic fracture later in life.

For many sufferers, the first indication of osteoporosis, or “fragile bone disease,” is when they actually sustain a fracture. Drugs can slow or arrest the development of the disease, but the condition may already be quite advanced by the time the first break has happened.

Read more at University of Southampton