Newest imaging technology to eliminate complications caused by metal screws used in hip fracture repairs

A research conducted in the Hospital of Special Surgery (HS) entitled “Femoral Head Osteonecrosis Following Anatomic Stable Fixation of Femoral Neck Fractures: An in-vivo MRI Study” have shown the efficacy of an innovation in healthcare informatics with regards to assessing surgical outcomes of femoral neck hip fractures.

More than 340,000 patients have been recorded to suffer from hip fracture annually in the United States. The most common site affected is the femoral neck which is located just below the ball-and-socket joint of the hip. This has been shown to be the fracture site of 45 to 53% of cases. The site is highly vascularized, making cases of hip fractures prone to complication. Once the blood supply to this area is disrupted or compromised, the bone cells may die and undergo a medical condition known as osteonecrosis.

The Department of Radiology and Imaging at HSS, a top premier center in highly specialized and sophisticated musculoskeletal imaging technology led by Dr. Hollis G. Potter, conducted the research which involves the use of a “Multi-Acquisition Variable-Resonance Image Combination,” or MAVRIC MRI. The device was used on patients three and twelve months after they have undergone surgery for hip fracture. Potter points out that the information that the MAVRIC MRI provides is more conclusive than the images obtained from a standard MRI or an X-ray. He further explains that the machine utilizes a novel 3D fast spin echo technique which minimizes the distortion that the metal screws used in the surgery are usually causing. The information gathered can be utilized in the determination of possible post-op complications, the most common of which are non-union and osteonecrosis. Through this, early interventions can be initiated decreasing the risk for developing osteoarthritis or bone collapse.

Potter explains that this development in magnetic resonance imaging significantly “improves the visualization of bone and soft tissue when there is metal in a joint, such as the screws used to repair a hip fracture.”

Despite current innovations, the advances in surgical techniques and tools are not sufficient to overcome the challenge imposed by femoral neck fractures. This is why the importance of imaging cannot be underestimated. As Dr. Potter states, imaging is an invaluable part of the healthcare system of HSS and their team in the Department of Radiology and Imaging are continually finding new ways to capture the early signs of a condition of the musculoskeletal system and monitor its progression and resolution.

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