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Software and technical products: BoneFinder – software to determine bone shape in x-rays

1 Dec 2015

This case study forms part of our annual outcomes report, looking at how the MRC delivered impact through its research in 2014/15. More can be found in the Outputs, outcomes and impact of MRC research: 2014/15 report section of our website.

When University of Manchester research associate Claudia Lindner was a PhD student, she and colleagues began developing BoneFinder, software to help analyse bone shape in x-rays, in 2011. It automatically outlines bones on radiograph images, saving thousands of hours of manual work. The software is designed to automatically pick out bone shapes in images, rather than relying on researchers and doctors to do this manually.

Identifying bone outlines plays an important role in disease diagnosis, preoperative planning, and treatment analysis. It is particularly important in arthritis, which affects more than 30 per cent of over 65s and costs the UK economy around £30 billion each year.

The software can already identify hips and now, with £300k in funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the researchers will adapt it to map out knees and hands and to learn to identify other bones and structures in the body.

The funding will also allow further development to ensure the system is accurate enough to be used in hospitals for faster diagnosis of problems in patients. In April 2015 BoneFinder was awarded the first prize in an ISBI (International Symposium on Biomedical Imaging) Grand Challenge on dental x-ray image analysis. The goal was to automatically detect anatomical structures in radiographic images of the skull for the analysis of dental abnormalities. BoneFinder achieved similar accuracy to that of two experienced doctors.

The software has been licensed to more than 20 research groups worldwide, including the University of Oxford and the University of California in San Francisco where it is used to study the relationship between hip bone shape and osteoarthritis.

Image: from the BoneFinder software. Credit: C.Lindner

Project reference number: Not currently available.


  • Categories: Research
  • Health categories: Musculoskeletal
  • Locations: Manchester
  • Type: Success story