Published on: 6th December 2023

A new grant-funded study into osteoporosis screening will test the ability of a new bone analysis tool to alert GP’s to their patients’ risk of osteoporosis, a condition that results in over 500,000 people in the UK receiving hospital treatment for fragility fractures every year.

The study is being led by Prof Richard Keen and Dr Jude Bubbear from RNOH and is funded by Innovate UK's Precision Medicine programme. It will focus on the efficacy of a new AI technology, OsteoSight, which is designed to increase the very low diagnosis rates of osteoporosis within the population. This project has the potential to change the lives of thousands of patients affected by osteoporosis each year. By reducing A&E attendances and emergency procedures, beds and operating theatres can be freed up to reduce waiting lists across the NHS.

OsteoSight has been developed by a team of UK doctors and scientists at Naitive Technologies and employs AI technology to mimic the gold standard test for detecting osteoporosis, a DEXA (Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) scan, using only standard X-rays. OsteoSight is designed to be used on routine X-rays that are being carried out for other reasons; for example, someone referred with hip pain. The benefits of this include doing more with less - the X-ray is already being done - and this added information can capture people who might not have been otherwise screened.

The study is taking place at RNOH and will validate OsteoSight in a real-world clinical setting before rollout across the NHS. Patients who are having a hip X-ray will be asked to join the study to find out more about their bone health. If they join, they will also have a DEXA scan and the study will test the ability of OsteoSight to predict the DEXA results.

Dr Catherine Kelly, Chief Operating Officer at Naitive Technologies, said: "We are delighted to be partnering with Professor Keen and team at RNOH, to evaluate OsteoSight in a clinical NHS setting. This study signifies a critical step in proving the efficacy and real-world application of the technology, which aims to improve health outcomes in patients with poor bone health.”

If diagnosed early, osteoporosis can be effectively managed and fracture risk significantly reduced by lifestyle changes and/or medication. Despite this, 75% of individuals with osteoporosis remain undiagnosed and untreated. Diagnosis relies on GPs identifying at-risk patients and referring them for a specific DEXA scan. However, with few signs or symptoms, and GPs facing unprecedented time-constraints due to workforce pressures, traditional osteoporosis screening is not working. It is hoped OsteoSight’s innovative AI technology will significantly help the large group of patients that is currently being missed.