New technique helps painful joint disease

2nd February 2009, Comments 0 comments

Swiss doctors develop new microscope to diagnose arthritis.

PARIS - Swiss doctors said on Sunday they devised a smart microscopic technique that can speed diagnosis of people with osteoarthritis.

Their experimental "atomic force microscope" is designed to be minimally invasive and could give patients early warning of problems ahead, according to their study, published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

Osteoarthritis is caused by an erosion of the cartilage, the "cushion" between the joints, and by a decrease in the fluid that lubricates the joint.

The technique, devised by a team led by Martin Stolz of the University of Basel, entails tapping the surface of a joint with a tiny tip that responds to stiffness.

There are no treatments at present to stop or slow cartilage loss.

But the "atomic force" technique could give up to six months' warning to someone prone to the disease, enabling the patient to take up measures such as weight loss or exercise to help conserve the tissue.

[AFP / Expatica]

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