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New Imaging Software Allows for Earlier Diagnosis of Joint Replacement Complications

Joint Replacement X-Ray

A breakthrough in imaging technology developed at Hospital for Special Surgery in collaboration with GE Healthcare and Stanford University now allows doctors to better diagnose metal implant complications, in some cases before symptoms begin. In May, GE Healthcare introduced MAVRIC SL, new magnetic resonance (MR) imaging technique software developed by GE Physicist Dr. Kevin M. Koch, in collaboration with Dr. Hollis Potter, chief of the Division of MR Imaging in the Department of Radiology and Imaging at HSS, and scientists at Stanford University. The new technology allows physicians to view clear images of soft tissue and bone near metal implants.

The MAVRIC SL was designed to directly address the growing need for arthroplasty revision procedures (a second surgery to correct the failure of an artificial joint). Recent years have seen a dramatic increase in the volume of these procedures due to the increase in joint replacements done on younger and more active patients. These individuals have their implants for longer and are expecting more from them, sometimes leading to deterioration from wear.

While patients see their surgeons when joint replacement symptoms (e.g., pain, inflammation) present, Dr. Potter recently published a study reporting that patients may begin experiencing tissue damage from metal-on-metal implants even before symptoms start. MAVRIC SL technology can help catch this damage in its earliest stages, allowing for a more conclusive diagnosis and effective surgical planning.

Before the launch of this software, diagnosing tissue and bone damage in patients with implants was difficult. X-rays and MR and CT image soft tissue around metal implants inadequately for diagnosis. “Unmet patient need drives innovation,” said Dr. Potter. “All of this starts with a patient, and then we come up with an imaging technique to respond to that need.”

In traditional MR imaging technologies, metal within the patient distorts the encoding gradients (the part of the MRI technology that depicts the anatomy in an accurate location). The MAVRIC SL takes individual “shots” of an image, each one capturing signal from a different frequency. These partial images are then put together to construct the final, clear picture around the metallic implant.

While the MAVRIC SL was developed as an innovative solution to a specific clinical problem, this new technology will extend far beyond joint replacements to meet a large range of patient needs in areas including dental scans and any other metal pieces (e.g., pins from fractures). “GE Healthcare is committed to humanizing MR by focusing on the needs of the patient, technologist and clinician,” said Richard Hausmann, president and CEO of GE Healthcare’s MR business unit. “Things are possible when you bring clinical and technical together.”

Topics: Orthopedics
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