Using 3-D Images to Detect Blocked Arteries

New technology may soon allow physicians to see 3-D images of the heart's arteries, simplifying and improving the diagnostic procedure.

New technology that will allow physicians to see 3-D images of the heart’s arteries has been tested in humans for the first time, a step in the development process that brings the technology one step closer to regular use in the catheter lab setting.

The new software, which uses existing X-ray systems, produces 3-D images that may improve both the length of time it takes to diagnose any blocked arteries, as well as the accuracy with which these are diagnosed. The study used a comparison process to determine the accuracy of the new system.

According to the article that appeared in Circulation: Cardiovascular Interventions, when the reconstructed 3D volumetric images were compared with the 2D angiographic projection images to determine overall image and lesion quality, “the majority of the resulting 3D volume images were rated as having high image quality (66%) and provided the physician with additional clinical information such as complete visualization of bifurcations and unobtainable views of the coronary tree.” Also, “true-positive lesion detection rates were high (90 to 100%), whereas false-positive detection rates were low (0 to 8.1%),” and, “finally, 3D quantitative coronary analysis showed significant similarity with 2D quantitative coronary analysis in terms of lumen diameters and provided vessel segment length free from the errors of foreshortening.”

The researchers conclude that the 3-D imaging technique is not only feasible and efficient; it is also “ready for further implementation and study in the clinical environment.”

“This is the first in-human use,” said John. D. Carroll, MD, a study investigator and professor of medicine and director of interventional cardiology in the division of cardiology at the University of Colorado. “The next step is to test it in multiple centers around the world. In addition, we’ll formally test it to see the impact on clinical care. The bottom line is that this is very exciting technology that holds great promise.”