HWM (Singapore) - - Think - by Mar­cus Wong

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.


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