Scientists at the UNC Thurston Arthritis Research Center are exploring how ultrasound can offer important benefits related to the study of osteoarthritis.

Amanda Nelson, MD, MSCR, RhMSUS

While X-rays have long been the first option that clinicians and researchers turn to when assessing osteoarthritis (OA), the technology has its limitations. Too often, the findings from X-ray images don’t correspond well with patients’ symptoms, and X-ray images are not especially helpful in tracking the small changes that take place within the joints over time.

Thanks to a grant from the American College of Rheumatology, TARC scientist and physician Amanda Nelson, MD, MSCR, RhMSUS is researching the potential for using ultrasound technology to study knee OA. Ultrasound offers numerous benefits compared to X-rays or even MRIs for studying OA, including the fact that it is very cost-effective, widely available, reliable, and can identify OA changes at an earlier stage, when doctors are more able to make early interventions for the patient.

Her study, titled “Sonography of OA by Rheumatologists” (SOAR), will be integrated into the Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project (JoCoOA), which is evaluating the causes and societal implications of OA. The JoCoOA Project is managed by TARC and has been continuously funded for over 25 years.