More than 30% of over 65s in the UK suffer from arthritis costing the economy £30 billion a year. Researchers at the University of Manchester are developing software that can pick up the outline of individual bones in X-rays, with the potential to speed up the treatment process for arthritis patients.

Typically, this job is done by radiographers – but it is a time-consuming process, especially as researchers are often working with hundreds of individual images.

Using such software could save thousands of hours and speed up diagnosis and treatment.

The Engineering and Physical Science Research Council is giving £300,000 of funding to the University’s Institute of Popular Health to develop the software, so it’s accurate enough to be used in hospitals.

Bonefinder software

The project is based on existing free software called Bonefinder.

Bonefinder can identify the outline of hips and is already being used by research groups in the UK. It will be developed so it can identify knees, hands and other bone structures

Professor of computer vision Tim Cootes says the software will be able to take routine tasks away from medical professionals “so scientists can focus on drawing conclusions and developing treatments.”

“Ultimately we want to get this technology into hospitals where it can save time and resources for the benefit of patients” he said.

Photo credit: Bonefinder software by Dr Claudia Lindner. University of Manchester

Top photo for illustrative purporses only