Stage and screen actress Susan Hampshire OBE - patron of the National Osteoporosis Society - will today officially launch a new digital x-ray suite boasting equipment that is the first of its kind in the world.
‘Nessie’ is the nickname of the new Direct Digital Radiostereometry system being opened at the University of Aberdeen’s Health Sciences Building at the Foresterhill campus.
The £500,000 piece of kit – which uses a new imaging technology called Radiostereometry (RSA) – will greatly aid researchers’ understanding of bone fractures and hip, knee and other joint replacements.
Built to the University’s specification, Nessie will enable researchers to predict more accurately the success or failure of joint replacements as well as better assess the healing of broken bones and damaged tendons.
This should ultimately lead to more effective treatments for patients who will also receive a lower radiation dose when they are x-rayed using this new technology.
The equipment is so cutting edge that experts in Sweden - regarded as the pioneers of RSA imaging - want to come to Aberdeen to see it.
Professor David Reid, Chairman of the National Osteoporosis Society as well as Head of the University’s Division of Applied Medicine, invited Susan Hampshire to open the new x-ray suite while she is in Aberdeen appearing at HMT Theatre in Pride and Prejudice.
The Professor of Rheumatology said: “This new University of Aberdeen facility will prove a boon for research into many types of arthritis but also critically the bone disease osteoporosis - a particular interest of Susan Hampshire, who is a patron of the National Osteoporosis Society.”
Mr Paddy Ashcroft, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon with NHS Grampian, and Senior Lecturer at the University, has been the driving force behind the new equipment - funded by the Scottish Chief Scientist Office, Grampian Osteoporosis Trust, NHS Grampian Research in Orthopaedics Fund and the University of Aberdeen.
He said: “Aberdeen is already acknowledged as a world leader for its imaging work and its research into bone diseases. Now Nessie, our brand new imaging system, further establishes our position as being right at the forefront of musculoskeletal and RSA research.
“Our aim is to improve the care of patients with arthritis, fractures and tendon diseases using the information we gain from a wide range of clinical and basic science projects. We also believe that with this equipment we can develop and simplify the RSA technique, enabling it to be introduced to patient care, nationally and internationally.”
Susan Hampshire added: “I am delighted to be opening this pioneering new facility especially as it will help with research into osteoporosis, a disease that affects millions of people, including myself.”
Ms Hampshire will see the new equipment - which will be operational in the coming weeks - and unveil a plaque before meeting committee members of the National Osteoporosis Society’s Aberdeen and North-East Support Group.
Nessie was built through a collaboration involving the University of Aberdeen, NRT-Nordisk Røntgen Teknik in Denmark and Cannon and Xograph in the UK.
RSA – the radiographic technique that it applies – is only used in a small number of places in the UK and Aberdeen is one of two centres currently leading the way with its use.
The technique involves taking two simultaneous x-rays of a patient to monitor 3D movement of one part of the body in relation to another e.g. monitoring the movement of a joint replacement relative to the bone in which it has been implanted.
Other centres applying RSA use non-digital technology and x-ray films while the Aberdeen facility is the first in the world to use direct recording of the images onto computer.
This delivers a sharper and more accurate picture of the injury being studied by researchers.