Stress fractures of bones can be difficult to detect using traditional X-rays and many go unidentified until they worsen through continued activity. Early detection can lead to preventative rehab, so radiologists at the General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital in Missouri have developed a better, though more expensive, way of finding small fractures.
They combined SPECT (Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography), typically used for imaging soft tissue, with low dose CT to create fusion images that reveal fractures otherwise unseen. Now U.S. Army soldiers visiting the hospital after an injury have a much higher chance of going to therapy rather than back to work with an active fracture. Traditionally, injured Soldiers in training are given an X-ray and sent back to continue training if an injury is not visible. Undiscovered stress injuries then progress and are discovered at a later date as a more serious insufficiency fracture, or stress fracture. With information from this new imaging technique about two thirds more Soldiers return to training after rehabilitation, long before injuries would normally progress to career-ending injuries and incurring large training losses.