Sound waves have been used by researchers in the United Kingdom as the centerpiece of technology that can identify osteoarthritis in the knee. The device, which is portable, is built with microphones that attach to an individual’s knees and measures high-frequency sound waves the knees produce when an individual stands up.

News about the successful trial of this medical technique was revealed in a media release from Lancaster University, where the study was led in association with colleagues from the University of Central Lancashire and Manchester University. Lancaster University professor John Goodacre, who is also a consultant rheumatologist, characterized the development as one that could transform how knee osteoarthritis is assessed and treated.

“Unlike an MRI scan, this approach can tell you what happens when the joint moves, and it can also measure how the knee is changing over time,” Goodacre says. He adds that the findings could open a door to a new method of medical assessment based on the interpretation of body sounds.

“Researchers are only just starting to explore the idea of listening to structures like joints, arteries, or the intestines and seeing if the sounds they make can tell us about diseases. So this is a new field, and the UK is leading in this area,” Goodacre says.

The media release from the university notes that if this new technology proves effective, it will be taken forward into clinical practice through the North West Coast Academic Health Science Network (AHSN), for which Professor Goodacre is medical director. The AHSN is a new organization established by NHS England with the aim of improving the development and uptake of innovation in the NHS.

[Source: Lancaster University, UK]