Scientists at the University of Bristol are using skeletal remains of people in tandem with a new computer program to help find a way to treat chronic back pain. The research brought together archaeology and anthropology experts who used computer modeling techniques developed at the University of Leeds to come up with the results.
The team used spines from 40 skeletons that came from museums and university anatomy collections to generate data on varying types of spine conditions, how the spines are shaped, and used the info in a special computer simulation. The data collected will enable the potential impact of new treatments and implant materials (such as keyhole spinal surgery and artificial disc replacements) to be evaluated before they are used on patients.
This program will also help figure out the best treatment of an individual patient. This is the first software of its kind made for treating back conditions. This research is expected to speed up the process of clinical trials to find new treatments, which sometime can take up to ten years through normal procedures. The data provided by the skeletal remains will be used to supplement other info from bodies donated to science, which come mostly from older individuals.
This computer modeling breakthrough is possible thanks to recent advances in micro-CT (computed tomography) scanning. Computed tomography (CT) scans use X-rays to build up 3-dimensional images from multiple cross-sectional pictures of body organs or tissues.