3D foot scanner at RNOH is transforming diagnosis and treatment

A new scanner at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital is set to transform the diagnosis and treatment of foot and ankle problems.

For the first time in the UK this new technology will enable doctors to view the foot and ankle in 3D in a full weight bearing position, and if necessary in shoes – helping to identify the source of pain more effectively.

RNOH consultant orthopaedic surgeon and clinical lead of the foot and ankle unit, Dishan Singh said: “Traditionally, we have used 2D X-rays to diagnose foot problems but this only gives us limited information. The new scanner allows us to clearly see how the foot and ankle looks and functions in a weight bearing position, and this will help us treat patients earlier to prevent long term problems”

In this animation, RNOH consultant orthopaedic surgeon Andy Goldberg explains how the 3D scanner is enabling new insights into foot and ankle conditions.

Specialists at UCL found that a number of their female patients (57%) admitted to experiencing severe foot pain as a result of regularly wearing uncomfortable shoes. A further 86% admitted that they found difficulty in finding shoes that could comfortably fit their feet.

Women who regularly wear high heels often suffer from foot and ankle problems as body weight is transferred to the ball of the foot, adding pressure to sesamoids (the tiny pea sized bones under the big toe). Frequent wearing of high heels also squashes the toes, forcing the foot into an unnatural shape, which can cause intense pain and possible long-term damage such as clawing of the toes.

“More than one in five GP visits relate to musculoskeletal problems and many of these are for problems relating to the foot and ankle. There is an established link between high heels and foot pain, but for the first time we are able to see the effect of such shoes on feet in real time” said Mr Goldberg. “In moderation high heels are fine; it’s when worn day in day out that problems could develop”.

CurveBeam’s  pedCAT® can scan both feet, standing in shoes or out, in less than 60 seconds and with similar radiation levels to conventional radiographs. In its first month of use at RNOH the pedCAT has already been used to scan more than 80 patients and has helped to more accurately pinpoint a number of foot and ankle conditions, including bunions, fractures, dislocations and arthritis.

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