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Early Accurate Diagnosis

Submitted by jctink on Mon, 08/22/2016 - 3:24pm


Bone and joint disorders are one of the most common chronic conditions affecting Canadians, and the leading cause of disability world-wide. Evidence suggests that early diagnosis and intervention can alter the long-term outcome of these chronic diseases.

"There's no stopping this kid!"

When Ava Morgan was seven, she began complaining about sore knees.  A series of blood tests and a visit to rheumatologist Susanne Benseler confirmed she had Psoriatic Juvenile Arthritis.  An early diagnosis and targeted treatments have been key to keeping Ava healthy and active.  Today, Ava loves playing hockey, ringette and going to the playground with her brother and sister. “There is no stopping this kid!” says Christeena.A McCaig Institute research team led by Dr. Marvin Fritzler has developed a series of blood tests that provide a specific immune fingerprint of rheumatic diseases that will give physicians a much better idea of which treatment is going to be most effective.

Biomarkers - immune system fingerprints

When McCaig Institute researcher Marv Fritzler was first recruited to Calgary in 1978, he was the only rheumatologist at the Foothills Hospital. Day after day he saw complex cases of autoimmune and rheumatic diseases that were extremely difficult to diagnose. “Before you can successfully treat a patient, you need to know everything you can about their condition,” says Fritzler. “That’s where the detective work comes in.”

Fritzler and his team have developed a series of blood tests that provide a specific immune fingerprint of inflammatory diseases, allowing physicians to diagnose lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions much earlier in their development. Once the specific disease is identified, targeted treatment can begin to prevent or slow its progression.


Study aims to improve early detection of osteoarthritis after knee injury

A tumble on the ski hill or a slip on the sidewalk can prove to be traumatic on the knees short-term and potentially long-term. Suffering a knee injury increases the likelihood of developing osteoarthritis. Now a researcher in the Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary is embarking on a new study to change the negative outcomes associated with knee injuries with new diagnostic techniques that will monitor the body for changes immediately following an injury. 

 “Currently, the gold standard of diagnosis is to use X-ray on knee injuries,” says McCaig Institute researcher Janet Ronsky, “However, that only works once physical breakdown of cartilage can be viewed. At that point we have much less chance of changing the progression the disease.”


Safer technology to monitor scoliosis

Scoliosis is defined by curvature and rotation of the spine, affecting one in 200 adolescents. Surgeons often recommend either long-term spinal bracing or surgical correction to manage scoliosis. Currently the curve is monitored using repeated X-rays, which have been shown to be associated with an increased risk of cancer for children with Scoliosis. Using three-dimensional imaging techniques, Janet Ronsky's Movement Assessment lab aims to reduce radiation exposure and improve diagnosis and surveillance in patients with scoliosis.