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New algorithm predicts progression of OA

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A new algorithm developed by researchers in Finland may be able to predict the progression of osteoarthritis in individual patients.

More than 10 million people in the UK have arthritis, and every year there are around one million primary care consultations for the most common form of the disease, osteoarthritis (OA).

Early diagnosis gives patients the best chance of effective treatment, and it’s thought the new algorithm could facilitate clinical decision-making in the treatment of OA.

The research group from the University of Eastern Finland tested the ability of the cartilage degeneration algorithm, created earlier by the same group, to predict the progression of OA in individual patients and to grade the severity of their disease using the Kellgren-Lawrence classification.

They applied the algorithm to 21 patients, and were able to categorise them into their correct groups at a four-year follow-up: patients without OA, patients with mild OA, and patients with severe OA.

The degeneration algorithm is based on stresses experienced by the knee joint during walking, and which are simulated on a computer. The algorithm assumes that stresses exceeding a certain threshold during walking will cause local degeneration in the articular cartilage of the knee.

According to the university, the algorithm shows great potential in predicting patient-specific progression of OA in the knee. What’s more, it could be used to clinically simulate the effects of various interventions, including osteotomy, meniscectomy and weight loss, on the progression of osteoarthritis.

The findings of the study have been published in Scientific Reports.