3D Ultrasound Catheter Would Offer Volumetric View
An emerging 3D imaging catheter aims to provide cardiologists with a live view from inside the heart during cardiac catheterizations. Developed by RTI International, the catheter contains an ultrasound microarray made using semiconductor circuit fabrication that can provide unprecedented volumetric field of view, in real time.

Providing this live 3D view could help improve accuracy and reduce the risk of complications during cardiac interventions, according to researchers. This improved visualization could also shorten interventional procedures that currently can take several hours to complete due to their complex nature and limited ability to see inside the heart.

"Unlike other silicon-based ultrasound devices, this microarray technology combines the performance benefits of conventional piezoelectric devices with the miniaturization and manufacturing efficiency of semiconductor microfabrication," says lead author David Dausch, PhD, technical director at RTI.

This technique enabled RTI to produce ultrasound arrays with up to 512 piezoelectric elements, eight times more than conventional 2D ultrasound catheters. The first-ever real-time 3D ultrasound images from this type of ultrasound device were reported in an article published in the IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics and Frequency Control. Full 3D volumes with field of view of 60° by 60° were obtained in a live porcine model with frame rates of up to 30 volumes per second.

RTI has teamed with a southern California-based entrepreneur, Paul Zalesky, PhD, to form Envisage Medical, a startup company aimed at developing the volumetric imaging system necessary to advance this technology into clinical reality.

According to Zalesky, the silicon-based manufacturing platform will reduce costs, ultimately providing 3D imaging at a cost lower than today's 2D imaging.

RTI is also collaborating with Kalyanam Shivkumar, MD, PhD, director and chief of interventional cardiovascular programs at UCLA Medical Center, with the goal of implementing this technology in the catheter lab.

The project team's next steps are to integrate the 3D catheters onto a clinical ultrasound system and demonstrate efficacy in a series of animal studies. The team hopes that in the near future this real-time volumetric imaging technology can be used by interventional cardiologists to guide the repair and replacement of heart valves, correction of dangerous arrhythmias, and other least-invasive cardiac procedures.
SOURCE: RTI International