Gridiron boo-boos informing new imaging technique

Football injuries to NFL players have given the game a black eye. But now some good is coming of the risk, and it has much to do with a promising use of CT imaging.

At UBMD Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine in Buffalo, affiliated with the State University of New York, clinical studies are underway on the use of 3D cone-beam CT (CBCT) to image knees, legs, feet, arms and hands.

The site is working with the Buffalo Bills and CBCT manufacturer Carestream to develop the low-radiation, compact modality for wider use in sports medicine and for extremity imaging in general.

The earliest iterations of cone-beam technology entered the U.S. healthcare market in 2001. According to a Carestream release, the new digital CBCT can provide “otherwise unavailable weight-bearing (i.e., the patient is standing upright) images.” 

The company said it plans to work with UBMD and its parent provider org, 550-bed Erie County Medical Center, to assess digital CBCT’s capabilities for treating a variety of conditions and injuries affecting the extremities.

The initial clinical study “may help surgeons more accurately and objectively diagnose the degree of instability of the patella (knee cap),” said John Marzo, MD, a UBMD physician who teaches at the university and is a former medical director of the Bills. “A second collaborative project will validate the ability of the CBCT scanner to measure contact area inside the knee joint, which will be valuable in a host of clinical situations.”

Carestream added that a CBCT system could be used in a stadium or locker room during a game or practice, facilitating speedy evaluations and, if needed, referrals for treatment.