3D images of your arteries now on show!

November 29, 2008

I love science, it is amazing to see the developments and increase in our knowledge that would have seemed unimaginable a few years ago. You need healthy arteries, and up to now it hasn’t been possible to get an all round view of them to help your doctor and surgeon to get a complete picture of what is going on. Now, it is a reality according to a report this week from Massachusetts General Hospital. They have shown the first 3-D all round view of the lining of a patient’s right coronary artery and it revealed a recently placed stent and lipid deposits. No more guesswork for the surgeon as they will be able to see more clearly and check for areas of inflammation or the calcium or lipid deposits that can cause a heart attack. Mass General developed the optical frequency-domain imaging (OFDI) device to get the 3-D views inside a human artery. The previous imaging device made by the same investigators could only examine tissues one point at a time, but this one can look at more than 1,000 points of artery tissue. The surgeon uses the device to physically probe through the coronary artery and as wavelengths are emitted and reflected back, they can in seconds get the data they need to create the detailed microscopic images.

Dr. Gary Tearney, associate professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School sees very positive benefits for this new technology. “The wealth of information that we can now obtain will undoubtedly improve our ability to understand coronary artery disease and may allow cardiologists to diagnose and treat plaque before it leads to serious problems.” A further development is the combining of the OFDI probe with intravascular ultrasound as it is not able to penetrate deep into tissues. This was the first venture, and it is hoped to have it available to surgeons within 1-2 years.


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