early detection of arthritis

A finger scanner device is currently being developed to allow early detection of arthritis in the hand, which has the potential to promote earlier treatment.


Both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis can affect the joints of the hands. Early detection and treatment of arthritis can help to improve quality of life for a longer period of time. A device currently under development by the Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering IBMT aims to detect inflammation in the hands, associated with early stages of arthritis.

The finger scanner device is superior to x-ray and ultra sound imaging, in that it can detect features of arthritis at an earlier stage. The finger scanner works by identifying inflammation present within the joints. The scanner emits pulses of short laser light which cause the finger tissue to expand. As a result, pressure pulses are created, which are detected by the scanner. These patterns of pressure pulses are then used to identify sites of inflammation. In addition, a hyperspectral imaging system is used, which scans the finger with strong white light. Due to the fact that inflamed tissue absorbs certain wavelengths of light, it can be determined whether or not inflammation is present.

A prototype of the finger scanner is to be presented at the MEDICA trade fair in Düsseldorf (November 16-19).



Fraunhofer Press Release Nov 03, 2015 “Detecting arthritis with light” Available from: http://www.fraunhofer.de/en/press/research-news/2015/november/detecting-arthritis-with-light.html Last Accessed: November 3, 2015.






Written by Deborah Tallarigo, PhD

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