Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Research by Professor Jeremy Fairbank and colleagues, and published in the European Spine Journal, has found automation can improve how we diagnose back problems.

A novel feature of the model is to identify ‘Evidence Hotspots’ that are the array of elements that most contribute to the degradation scores. © Jeremy Fairbanks

Back pain is the top cause of life-long disability worldwide, leading to enormous medical and social costs. Successful diagnosis of the problem at the root of the pain can lead to a better and more effective treatment, improving the lives of patients the world over.

The team looked at 12,018 intervertebral discs, from more than 2000 patients and concluded that the model developed to identify and label vertebrae and discs was as accurate as a radiologist at detecting disc degeneration. The model has the added advantages of being consistent (when compared to multiple practitioners), allowing for a faster analysis and therefore being cheaper.

This research has been recognised with the 2017 International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine Bioengineering Award.

"This new method opens the door to automated reading of Lumbar MRI scans. In a research setting this means large cohorts of scans can be read in a consistent fashion removing observer variation. In a clinical setting, where observer variation is also a significant problem, it provides a new method for quality control. We expect an early development will be to screen lumbar MRI scans for 'serious pathology', which is an important indication for the half a million lumbar MRI scans requested in NHS England each year. The impact of this will significantly reduce the cost of current scanning practice and to expand existing MRI capacity", said Professor Fairbank.

The project was based on a large cohort of subjects with back pain gathered and phenotyped as part of an EU funded study, Genodisc (The European Union Health Project on Genes and Disc Degeneration called 'Genodisc' - FP7 Health2007A Grant Agreement No. 201626).

 

Image: Examples of disc volumes (upper in each pair) and their corresponding evidence hotspots (lower in each pair). The leftmost and rightmost images are the second and eighth slice for each disc, out of the full volume of 9 slices. Note that these hotspots localise extremely well. These examples were randomly selected from different patients.

Full paper

Automation of reading of radiological features from magnetic resonance images (MRIs) of the lumbar spine without human intervention is comparable with an expert radiologist.

Eur Spine J. 2017 Feb 6

 

Funder

The European Union Health Project on Genes and Disc Degeneration
Project: 'Genodisc' - FP7 Health2007A Grant Agreement No. 201626

Similar stories

Adalimumab is found to be a cost-effective treatment for early-stage Dupuytren’s disease

Researchers at the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology and Oxford Population Health’s Health Economics Research Centre have found that anti-TNF treatment (adalimumab) is likely to be a cost-effective treatment for people affected by early-stage Dupuytren’s disease.

Patients like me

What can patients learn from the experiences of people like them who’ve already had a hip replacement? A new tool called ‘Patients like me’ helps answer some of the questions about pain, complications and how long the prosthesis might last.

Study reveals new evidence on rare blood-clotting condition after covid-19 vaccination

Researchers from NDORMS at the University of Oxford have investigated claims that some adenovirus-based COVID-19 vaccines increase the risk of rare blood clots compared to their mRNA-based counterparts.

NDORMS contributes to new UK research to tackle monkeypox outbreak

The UK’s efforts to tackle the monkeypox outbreak will receive a huge boost with the creation of a new research consortium and a new study to study vaccine effectiveness.

World Osteoporosis Day 2022

A bone-healthy lifestyle is vital for strong bones and a mobile, fracture-free future. On World Osteoporosis Day, we are sharing advice from the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF), on putting your bone health first.

Mathematician boosts data science research at the Kennedy Institute

Welcome to Yang Luo who has joined the Kennedy Institute as the Principal Investigator of the Luo Group. Her lab is leading the investigation into how genetic variations contribute to diseases of the immune system.