Single 1.4 millimeter silicon chip: The future of cardiovascular imaging

cardiology health informaticsAtlanta, GA – researchers of have developed a breakthrough in biomedical engineering in the field of coronary artery disease diagnosis and management in the form of a catheter-based microchip device.

In a recent study supported by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), a part of the National Institutes of Health, the potential of a silicon microchip to effectively provide a forward looking three dimensional image of the volume within the heart and the blood vessels was proven. The research was published in the February 2014 issue of IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics and Frequency Control.

The 1.4 millimeter prototype combines the power of ultrasound technology and processing electronics which enables the chip to produce images at 60 frames per second. This new development in cardiology health informatics forwards real time three dimensional images of the heart, the coronary arteries and peripheral blood vessels.

The device utilizes 13 small cables making it easy for the chip to travel inside the circulatory system. F. Levent Degertekin, professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, said that this device will allow physicians to have a view of the whole blood vessel and its contents. It also gives the doctors a better view of the arterial occlusions which may reduce the need for surgical intervention. Although the cables are relatively tiny, these are able to effectively transmit data from about a hundred or more elements on the device.

A combination of capacitive micro machined ultrasonic transducer (CMUT) arrays with front-end CMOS electronics technology is used by the device to be able to provide three-dimensional intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) and intracardiac echography (ICE) images. This sophisticated technology is assembled in a small package of 1.5 millimeters in diameter which has a 430 micron center for the guide wire.

Degertekin pointed out that although we have cross sectional imaging nowadays to aid in diagnosing arterial occlusion, it proves to be insufficient. “You need a system that tells you what’s in front of you. You need to see the front, back and sidewalls altogether”, he explains.

Due to the success of the study, the researchers are paving the way for animal trials to be able to explore other potential applications of the device. They also hope to license the technology to be able to conduct clinical trials for the approval of the FDA. Ultimately, Degertekin and his colleagues plan to reduce the size of the device to be able to use a 400-micron diameter as a guide wire in their future endeavors.

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