New laser technology may assist in the diagnosis of osteoporosis

According to an article in the current issue of Chemical and Engineering News, portable devices that use a laser beam to probe bones, teeth and other parts of the body for early signs of diseases such as osteoporosis and tooth-decay have recently been invented.

Celia Henry Arnaud, senior editor of Chemical and Engineering News, notes that these new diagnostic tools will have the ability to see beneath the skin and detect disease without exposing patients to X-rays.

These devices use a technology that involves focusing a laser beam painlessly through the skin onto bone, such as the surface of a tooth. After hitting its target, the beam returns to an electronic detector with imprinted information that can reveal whether disease is present.

The technique, which is called Raman spectroscopy, is a mainstay tool in chemistry laboratories and has become increasingly useful in medicine. Professionals in this industry are showing interest in Raman-based devices, especially for diagnosing osteoporosis and other bone diseases, and for tracking the effectiveness of treatment.

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