DECEMBER 4--GE Medical Systems (Waukesha, WI; www.gemedical.com), a unit of General Electric Company, has introduced a 4-D ultrasound technology platform that will allow physicians to visualize the complete fetal heart cycle without external triggering devices. "This new imaging technique will allow the clinician to review heart anatomy in three simultaneous planes with real-time motion," said Greg DeVore, M.D., an expert in fetal cardiac ultrasound and director of the Fetal Diagnostic Center (Pasadena, CA). "In addition, these moving digital files can be shared easily with medical experts around the world for consultation on any suspected abnormalities."
First introduced at the end of 2001, 4-D ultrasound simultaneously displays clinical images of the human body in three planes, with the added dimension of real-time motion. Traditional ultrasound images are two-dimensional, forcing a doctor to create three-dimensional images in his/her mind. Ultrasound is a safe and generally noninvasive way for physicians to see inside the human body.
The second generation of RealTime 4-D ultrasound increases the maximum data-acquisition speed from 16 volumes per second to 25 volumes per second, more than a 50% improvement. Physicians can use RealTime 4D Ultrasound at 25 volumes per second in conjunction with GE's Spatial Temporal Image Correlation technology to help assess congenital heart disease. The system performs a slow-motion volume scan of the fetal heart, and the data are assembled through the correlation of time and spatial domains. The result is a 4-D real-time dataset that shows one complete fetal heart cycle.
The new, faster RealTime 4-D ultrasound technology is available on the GE Voluson 730 Expert scanner, a companion system to GE's original 4-D ultrasound system, the Voluson 730 Pro. There are currently more than 1700 GE 4-D ultrasound systems around the world.