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Ideas & Observations

UK company offers hope for millions of osteoporosis sufferers

State-of-the-art technology developed by Sedgefield-based IBEX Innovations Ltd. is set to revolutionise osteoporosis detection.

The company’s IBEX Trueview® medical X-ray imaging software provides a ground-breaking opportunity to reduce the ballooning cost of fractures, ease the burden on the NHS, and give the UK’s ageing population many more decades of healthy, happy, active life.

Osteoporosis is a huge socio-economic problem that affects more than 3.5 million people in the UK. According to the NHS, more than 500,000 people receive hospital treatment for fragility fractures (bones that break after falling from standing height or less) every year as a result of osteoporosis, costing more than £4.4 billion per year.

A recent clinical study of IBEX Trueview® software demonstrated that it can be used to identify osteoporosis at an earlier stage in the care pathway. This can enable targeted treatment to start sooner, which reduces the risk of serious, potentially life-changing fractures occurring in the future.

The findings of the study – entitled ‘Prospective comparative study of quantitative X-ray (QXR) versus dual energy X-ray absorptiometry to determine the performance of QXR as a predictor of bone health for adult patients in secondary care’ – were recently published in the prestigious British Medical Journal, one of the most respected peer-reviewed medical journals in the world.

The findings show that Trueview can help to predict a patient’s risk of a future fracture from X-rays that have already been taken – for instance following a minor accident.

Often, osteoporosis is only diagnosed after a more serious fracture and the impact on a patient’s quality of life is significant, with many losing their independence and requiring long term care. Hip fractures, for example, carry a one-year mortality rate of 33% with half of surviving patients no longer able to walk unaided.

With the support of Trueview, many of these life-changing fractures could be prevented.

The software can be implemented on to new and existing X-ray systems without any need to replace or upgrade them, and it requires no additional scans or changes to operating protocols.

CTO of IBEX Innovations, Paul Scott, stated: “IBEX Trueview® software turns every compatible X-ray into an opportunity to screen for bone health. It has the potential to transform millions of lives and help to ease the financial burden of osteoporosis on the NHS.

“I am really encouraged by the results of this clinical study and am excited to see Trueview move one step closer to providing real benefits to patients and healthcare providers.

“We are proud to have developed a technology that can assist in the early detection of osteoporosis and poor bone health, and to be playing our part in reducing the occurrence of potentially life-changing fractures.”

The Chief Investigator for the study, Professor Amar Rangan, who is Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of York, commented: “When I came across the novel Trueview technology, I recognised that it has the potential to change the way in which we assess bone health, and I was keen to formally test it in an independently funded study.

“The results from our published study confirm that Trueview does indeed identify poor bone health.

“Current work is now focusing on how this new technology may work within current care pathways to get the right treatment to the right patients sooner.”

Consultant Rheumatologist and co-author of the paper, Dr Stephen Tuck, added: “Trueview has great potential to identify at risk individuals attending for routine X-rays who might otherwise go undetected.

“As no special equipment is needed, it can be bolted onto existing digital X-ray machinery and could be widely used. It could be especially useful in regions where access to densitometry is limited or where there are long waiting times for DXA (bone density) tests.”

Trueview software is being recognised and backed by a growing number of organisations and clinical professionals, and last year IBEX Innovations announced a partnership with the Royal Osteoporosis Society.

Commenting on the potential of Trueview, Henry Mace, Head of Partnerships & Philanthropy at the Royal Osteoporosis Society, said: “The Royal Osteoporosis Society is encouraged to see the results so far from Trueview and its potential to help combat osteoporosis through early diagnosis.

“We are delighted to be working in partnership with IBEX Innovations, who join us in the battle against this debilitating disease.”

Further studies are underway with Exeter University to confirm performance on patients undergoing routine wrist X-rays.

To read the published BMJ article, visit:
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