GE Healthcare showcases full-breadth of cardiology imaging, IT tools
GE Healthcare pulled out all the stops in Chicago this week at the American Heart Association (AHA) in Chicago by showcasing the full breadth of its latest developments in cardiology imaging, clinical IT systems, and other developments.

One major areas of focus was the company’s Vivid cardiovascular ultrasound platform, and in particular the Vivid 7 Dimension ‘06 which has been designed to help clinicians assess cardiovascular anatomy and LV function with more accuracy. This PC-based, software, raw data ultrasound platform can help improve a clinician’s ability to diagnose conditions by making 4D cardiovascular imaging easier to use during day-to-day clinical exams, the company said. Four-dimensional imaging of this type is useful for many things, including offering useful information during fetal ultrasounds regarding the presence of cleft lips or pre-diagnosing Down’s Syndrome. However, use of 4D ultrasound for adult applications is climbing fast due to its uses in structural heart imaging, according to GE representatives on the show floor.

Omar Ishrak, president and CEO of the company’s Clinical Systems business, said that they expect that by 2010 80 percent of the ultrasound systems they sell will have 4D capability.

New this year for the system is the following functionalities:
  • Real-time 4D color flow full volume imaging – allows clinicians to assess hemodynamic information in color and real time in the same heart cycle – with the option of viewing a 6 or 9 slice cross section of the left ventricle right on the Vivid 7 system;
  • 4D LV Volume – an EchoPAC Dimension option, gives users the ability to quantify volume information from real-time full volume Vivid 7 data;
  • Advance Tissue Synchronization Imaging (TSI) – time-to-peak data derived from TSI’s “red light/green light” visualizations to quantify left ventricle synchronicity for heart failure patients or those undergoing cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT); and
  • Automated Function Imaging (AFI) -- a tool that allows clinicians to assess and quantify left ventricle wall motion.
GE also showed the Vivid e, the company’s newest compact ultrasound system. The portable system weighs just 10 pounds and includes clinical applications, reporting tools and a user interface designed specifically for cardiac imaging. Vivid e is ideal for small clinics and physician offices and become available this past summer.

GE also introduced new features as part of what it called its ‘Breakthrough 2006” for another part of this ultrasound line, the Vivid i. The new features add new quantitative analysis tools and a wider range of applications. The system is designed to help clinicians assess cardiovascular anatomy and left ventricular function with greater accuracy and diagnostic confidence, while boosting productivity. New features include: SmartStress, a stress echo protocol, provides image acquisition, review, wall-segment scoring and reporting; Tissue Velocity Imaging (TVI) and Tissue Tracking (TT) visualize and quantify left ventricle function; an optional i2 Performance Package that enhances image quality with several innovations migrated from the Vivid 7 Dimension. Additionally the system now includes five new probes – including a 5S cardiac transducer and a 9T TEE transducer for pediatric exams; and an IMT analysis package for quick measurement of the carotid artery’s intima-media thickness.

Towards its efforts in providing technologies that can assist clinicians in determining a patient’s risk for sudden cardiac death (SDC), GE highlighted two patented algorithms that meet new guidelines that help physicians make such judgments. These algorithms can be used in combination with technology that is portable, making diagnostic tests available to patients anywhere. The two algorithms include the Marquette Modified Moving Average (MMA) T-Wave Alternans algorithm and the Marquette Heart Rate Turbulence algorithm– when inputted with ambulatory electrocardiography (ECG) data, have been shown to help predict if a person is at risk for SCD, the company said. 

A cardiac stress test, when conducted with GE Healthcare’s CASE stress test system and CardioSoft software, uses the Marquette Modified Moving Average (MMA) T-Wave Alternans algorithm to evaluate a patient’s risk of SCD. Ambulatory ECG data, also known as Holter monitoring, is a technique commonly used by physicians to investigate whether a patient’s symptoms, such as fainting, dizziness, or palpitations, are caused by a heartbeat that is too slow, too fast, or very irregular. Because GE’s Holter system is portable it enables physicians to monitor a patient’s heart rate information during their normal everyday activities. Specifically, in conjunction with GE’s Holter monitoring system, the T-Wave Alternans algorithm is able to detect fluctuations in the ECG waveform, identifying a pattern variation that can indicate SCD risk.

Other technologies and announcements at the show included:
  • GE highlighted its SnapShot Pulse, a CT feature that is able to maintain image quality while also reducing a patient’s radiation exposure by up to 70 percent per scan. SnapShot Pulse is automated to respond to a patient’s heart rate, turning the CT X-ray on and off at desired times during a patient’s heart rate cycle, a process called prospective triggered gating. In standard cardiac CT exams, the X-ray is on for the duration of a scan, even during periods when a patient’s heart is at an undesirable phase.  With SnapShot Cine, the X-ray is only on for portions of a scan, significantly reducing a patient’s X-ray exposure time. SnapShot Pulse is the first ever multi-slice scanner capable of performing CT angiographic (CTA) studies
  • A new electrocardiograph unit, the MAC 3500, part of the MAC product line of resting 12-lead ECG analysis systems;
  • A program that allows GE Electrocardiogram (ECG) data to support the FDA HL-7 XML Annotated ECG standard. The program allows Drug Application Sponsors and Contract Research Organizations (CROs) to transform data acquired on GE’s ECG recording and analysis equipment to FDA XML format. The FDA XML format data can then be submitted directly to the FDA for review; and
  • Enrollment of patients in a clinical trial designed to validate information provided  by I123-mIBG cardiac scans in evaluating the extent and nature of nerve damage in the heart and help physicians determine individual risk for sudden cardiac death.