ITSY BITSY BLOOD CAMERA THINGY
Researchers at the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, headed by professor F. Levent Degertekin, have developed a technology for a catheter-based device that can provide real-time, threedimensional imaging from inside the heart, coronary arteries and peripheral blood vessels.
Professor Degertekin’s prototype device combines Capacitive Micromachined Ultrasonic Transducer (CMUT) arrays with front-end CMOS electronics technology in a dual-ring array. This includes 56 ultrasound transmit elements and 48 receive elements all measuring just 1.5 millimeters in diameter with a 430-micron center hole to accommodate a guide wire.
Operating within blood vessels poses a set of problems, as medical image devices must be small and flexible enough to navigate the circulatory system; the transmission of ultrasound information also requires a large number of elements, external equipment for processing and many cables.
Professor Degertekin’s device features on-chip processing of signals, allowing data from more than a hundred elements to be transmitted using just 13 cables, easily traversing through blood vessels. Low power features also ensure that it does not heat up and boil the blood while it’s inside. The device is able to provide three-dimensional Intravascular Ultrasound (IVUS) and Intracardiac Echography (ICE) images that are higher resolution than those captured by devices that operate outside the body because it can operate at higher frequencies.
In other words, it’s a really, really small camera doctors can put into your blood vessels for taking life-saving selfies.