A study led by UNSW Australia investigates a novel MRI scanning technique, called “decay variance,” for analyzing degenerated spinal discs, opening up a promising pathway to better diagnoses of back pain.
As recently reported in The New Daily, a promising technology breakthrough in Australia may improve accuracy from 70% to 97% with the new investigational approach.
Pains Down Under
Over 120,000 people with back pain in Australia show up at emergency departments each year according to Australian Institute of Health and Welfare figures. More than 37,000 of these patients were in such a bad shape they were admitted into the hospital. Overall back pains bother one in six Australians, and in 95% of the cases, the cause is not certain.
Australian investigators are on a mission to find out the cause of back pain with a new MRI scan technique called “decay variance.” The study authors, in their published results, reveal how they capture spinal disc degeneration in rabbits using the new decay variance technique, and the accuracy rate achieved 97%. Using traditional MRI methods, the images were found to match the actual discs only 70% of the time.
The study seeks to bring clarity to an opaque world. For example, patients with healthy discs on the MRI reading will often be in severe pain and then there are those that have degenerate disc situations with no pain.
Dr. Ashish Diwan, an orthopedic surgeon at Sydney’s St. George Hospital noted that MRIs have been especially helpful in creasing pictures of soft tissues that don’t show up on x-ray examinations, although the technology itself is not perfect.