Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center is the first hospital in the world to implement a new 4D cardiovascular ultrasound technology that allows cardiologists to see chambers, valves, vessels and other intricate structures of the heart with vivid, life-like quality.
The cSound software, designed by Waukesha-based GE Healthcare for its newest ultrasound systems, was developed to help physicians more effectively diagnose conditions in patients while potentially reducing additional tests often required in treating heart conditions, such as heart failure.
cSound is a powerful, supercomputer-inspired software that uses algorithms to collect an infinite amount of data and then select pixel-by-pixel the most precise information to generate high-quality images of the heart.
“At Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center, we 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,” said Dr. Bijoy Khanderia, a cardiologist at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center. “We believe the new cSound technology from GE Healthcare can better help us efficiently and accurately diagnose and develop treatment plans for people suffering from heart failure conditions.”
Heart disease is the leading cause of death among both men and women in the U.S., killing more than 370,000 people annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some 5.1 million people in the U.S. suffer heart failure, a common type of heart disease, which develops when the heart becomes damaged or weakened by diseases. Heart failure costs the American health care system an estimated $32 billion annually.
The test most frequently ordered by cardiologists to help diagnose heart ailments is transthoracic echocardiograms, or TTEs. Yet, according to a 2012 study, 10 percent to 15 percent of TTEs are inconclusive, which can result in additional testing at up to nearly three times the original cost to patients.
“Our engineers set out to address the challenge of inconclusive exams, to change the speed and precision of heart care. We’re proud to see the result, cSound, in the expert hands of the clinicians at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center,” said Al Lojewski, general manager of cardiovascular ultrasound at GE Healthcare. “We believe ultrasound has the potential to rapidly transform how patients are cared for over the next decade, especially in cardiovascular care. We envision a day when all cardiologists can see inside any heart, providing more directed care for each patient.”
The technology is powered by beamforming, the next generation of transmitters and receivers, similar to those used on radar and Wi-Fi devices. Where traditional hardware-based machines create individual images that are layered together to create an overall image, software beamforming allows for all data to be analyzed together and produced into a singular, higher resolution image.
cSound is enhanced by HDlive, an app that uses advanced illumination, shadowing and superimposed depth to render a real-time, realistic visualization of the patient’s heart. Images are shown on a Sony high-definition OLED display, the newest evolution in wide screen monitors.
Aurora St. Luke’s has been testing the new software for several months, and in late June, began using the new technology with patients. The medical center has four cardiovascular ultrasound systems with cSound, available to the heart and vascular team to serve patients.