Big data, 4D, ‘beamforming’ beef up ultrasound heart imaging in Milwaukee

A Milwaukee hospital says it has become the first in the world to use 4D cardiovascular ultrasound to crisply image intricate parts of the heart and, in the process, to circumvent the use of common but often inconclusive transthoracic echocardiograms (TTEs).

Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center, a 973-bed facility that is part of the 15-hospital Aurora Health Care system, announced July 14 that it had implemented the technology.

Specifically, the center went live with GE’s new cSound system, for which the company says it developed software and algorithms to work with its latest cardiovascular ultrasound machines to collect a “potentially infinite” amount of data from the patient and precisely select info to send to a high-end display.

Aurora St. Luke’s said in a news release that it tested the software for several months and has been using it with patients since late June.

GE explains in a summary that cSound combines supercomputer-level processing of big data with an advanced depth-perception app and software “beamforming.”

This the company describes as a next generation of adaptive transmitters and receivers, “similar to those used in radar, seismology and WiFi communications, which then identifies the best data down to the individual pixel and converts that into meaningful, quantifiable and actionable images of the heart for the cardiologist.”

In its announcement, Aurora cited a study showing that TTEs, the most widely ordered cardiovascular tests, are inadequate for making confident diagnoses 10 percent to 15 percent of the time.

“[W]e treat some of the most complex heart conditions, and having access to best-in-class technology that can help deliver excellent patient care is important,” Bijoy Khanderia, MD, a cardiologist at Aurora St. Luke’s, said in the release.