CHICAGO, Jan. 24 -- Physicians at the University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago are the first in the country to use electron beam tomography (EBT) technology to help treat patients with congenital heart disease who undergo cardiovascular interventions in the catheterization laboratory.
While more than 150 centers worldwide provide EBT scanning to detect coronary artery calcification, lung cancer and other diseases, no other center has used this technology as a diagnostic tool during cardiac catheterization, the university said.
"The EBT scanner provides a great advantage in repairing major defects," said Carlos Ruiz, chief of pediatric cardiology at UIC. "Our unique use of this existing equipment offers patients the most accurate, safe and noninvasive imaging method for guiding transcatheter cardiovascular interventions and evaluating the final result."
Unlike conventional CT and MRI scanners, the EBT scanner acquires images much faster and with significantly less radiation exposure, making it possible to capture clear pictures of the beating heart.
EBT, also referred to as ultrafast CT, has been commonly used as a preventative tool and is a reliable noninvasive test for the early detection of coronary artery disease. The scanner uses high-resolution, 3-D software that provides instantaneous images. The images can then be rotated in any direction to obtain precise anatomic information, including a virtual reality-like view of the inner vessels that is otherwise unobtainable.
Interventional cardiologists routinely repair congenital heart defects during cardiac catheterization, alleviating the need for traditional open-heart surgery. Congenital defects such as patent ductus arteriosus, atrial septal defects, ventricular septal defects, or coarctation of the aorta require the cardiologist to open narrowed areas with balloons and stents or close unwanted channels between vessels with coils or intravascular devices. The devices are typically guided through a catheter from the groin or neck to the heart using 2-D imaging, such as fluoroscopy and echocardiography.
This 2-D imaging requires the cardiologist to find and repair the defect using his or her technical expertise and imagination to mentally reconstruct the lesion. Using 3-D high-speed imaging, cardiologists can now see the exact diameter, length and angle of the defect, allowing them to repair the heart more precisely.
Interventional cardiologists at UIC have used 3-D high-speed imaging to evaluate and treat more than 70 patients with congenital heart defects, ranging in age from one day to 74 years old.