Pulses of high-frequency sound can significantly speed up the healing of
broken bones, a study has found.
Researchers tested the therapy on patients with fractured shin bones, or
tibias, which had not properly healed after more than four months.
Over a period of 16 weeks, faster healing in patients receiving the "real"
treatment resulted in 34 per cent greater bone density at the injury site.
The treatment, called LIPUS, (low-intensity pulsed ultrasound) is delivered by
a small emitter linked to a handheld controller.
Therapy sessions lasting 20 minutes were conducted every day throughout the
The trial results were reported today in the online journal BMC
All had fractures of the shin bone shaft that had failed to heal adequately
after a significant amount of time.
Delayed "union" - the knitting together of broken bones - occurs in around
4.4% of tibial fractures.
Currently "non-unions" are tackled with complex and costly procedures which
involve grafting on extra pieces of bone and the use of growth-promoting
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Ultrasound has been shown to accelerate fracture healing by boosting the
activity of osteoblasts, the cells that synthesise bone.