Your doctor will now have access to detailed information about you –– at least of your blood vessels, arteries and heart that is.
Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology created a device that will allow doctors to capture real-time 3D images from inside the heart, coronary arteries and blood vessels. The microchip device is less invasive than other medical tools, catheter-based and small enough to operate in blood.
Only 1.5mm in diameter, the device uses ultrasound imaging techniques to capture images at 60 frames per second –– though the breakthrough component is its ability to take forward-facing images. Current imaging technology can only capture a cross section view and can hinder a surgery’s success.
“Our device will allow doctors to see the whole volume that is in front of them within a blood vessel,” said F. Levent Degertekin, a professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology to the Georgia Tech News Center. “This will give cardiologists the equivalent of a flashlight so they can see blockages ahead of them in occluded arteries. It has the potential for reducing the amount of surgery that must be done to clear these vessels.”
Similarly, its use of catheters –– medical devices usually used for drainage, insertion of fluids and more –– means a doctor can get a closer look at a patient’s inside without using invasive surgery techniques.
Requiring little energy, the device generates less heat within the body, which means less possible damage to the blood of the patient.
Currently, the research team aims to start animal studies soon to see the true potential of their prototype device when its used on humans. While the device is currently intended to be used for cardiac surgery, Degertekin told Wired, he isn’t opposed to the idea of using it on a broken bone to give doctors real-time information on when a cast could be removed.
The research team, supported by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering — part of the National Institute of Health — published their findings in the February 2014 issue of IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics and Frequency Control.