Doctors in Glasgow, which pioneered the use of ultrasound to scan the body, are now using the device to heal broken bones.
Orthopaedic surgeon Angus MacLean has been using the technology at Glasgow’s Royal Infirmary’s fracture clinic.
It has been shown to speed up recovery times for patients with severe fractures by more than a third.
Ultrasound was first developed as a diagnostic tool in Glasgow in the 1950s.
“We use it for difficult fractures, the ones with problems with healing, and it’s a very simple, painless treatment that we can give,” the BBC quoted MacLean as saying.
“It’s a very interesting scientific development and there’s good evidence that it just vibrates the cells a little which then stimulates healing and regeneration in the bone,” he explained.
The technology is similar to that used on pregnant women.
Ultrasound waves are used at a slightly different frequency and a slightly different pulse.
Research suggests this encourages cells to remove bacteria, stimulates the production of new bone cells and encourages those cells to mature more rapidly.
Because of the costs involved – around 1,000 pounds per patient – ultrasound is only being used on complex fractures at Glasgow Royal Infirmary.
But it is expected to reduce over time, making it a cheap way to speed up the healing of common fractures as well as complex ones.