Some Heart Procedures Shorter,
Safer With New Imaging Device
Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin recently began using new imaging technology that makes certain heart procedures shorter and safer. It is called intracardiac echocardiography (ICE) and it provides unique ultrasound images of the heart.
Timothy Woods, MD, Medical College of Wisconsin cardiologist and director of theFroedtert & Medical College Echocardiography Laboratory, says ICE is different from standard echo technology because the ultrasound device is mounted on the tip of a catheter. That means physicians can maneuver it via blood vessels directly into the heart.
Though it may seem complicated, catheter deployment actually gives ICE a major advantage over a standard imaging technique known as transesophageal echo. With transesophageal echo, an ultrasound probe is inserted down a patient's food pipe to guide certain interventional procedures that require general anesthesia - such as atrial septal defects and patent foramen ovales. The new ICE probe requires only a sedative. Since it provides imaging without anesthesia, ICE makes cardiac procedures shorter. Of course, eliminating general anesthesia makes them safer too. And because it can be used without an anesthesiologist, the new technology helps control costs.
Useful in key areas
The ICE probe is particularly useful when treating atrial septal defects and patentforamen ovales—holes in the wall that separate the two upper chambers of the heart. One out of every four people has such a hole, and it is thought to be the major cause of stroke in younger patients.
Froedtert & Medical College was the first facility in Milwaukee to close these holes without open-heart surgery. The procedure, performed with one of two devices - the Cardioseal® or the Amplatzer® - requires extensive imaging capability. ICE gives Medical College of Wisconsin physicians the tool they need to perform the procedure without putting the patient completely under.
The new technology has applications in the electrophysiology lab as well. There, physicians use energy-emitting catheters to treat arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat). The in-heart view provided by ICE is a tremendous advantage in some of the more difficult arrhythmia procedures.