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3D transesophageal echocardiography

The TEE probe aims at imaging the heart in 3D.

Researchers: Sandra Blaak, Hans Bosch, Nico de Jong

TransEsophageal Echocardiography
In the western world heart and vascular disease is the number one cause of death. Early diagnosis is important. To help a cardiologist make a diagnosis, detailed images of the structures and movements of the heart are needed, like the one shown in figure 1. These images can be obtained with a TEE probe. TEE stands for TransEsophageal Echo, which means that the echocardiogram is made from within the esophagus.

TEE probe
A TEE probe is shown in figure 2. The probe consists of an array of piezoelectric transducers, fitted on a gastroscopic pipe that is swallowed by the patient. When the probe is at the back of the heart images are obtained. Because it needs to be swallowed, the probe needs to be very small.

 

The project
Common TEE probes deliver 2D images of slices of the heart. The cardiologist forms a mental 3D picture from these slices. Our goal is to develop a TEE probe that makes 3D images instead of 2D. This will make the images more easy to interpret by the cardiologist.

To steer the beam into two orthogonal angles the elements of the transducer are arranged in a matrix pattern (2D array). Around 2000 elements are required to make images with sufficient resolution, so that important details of the heart can be visualized. All these elements need to be connected to an imaging system. It is impossible to fit 2000 cables into the gastroscopic pipe. Therefore it is necessary to include electronics close to the transducer and use smart signal processing to reduce the number of required cables.

Since this project covers many research areas, we work in close cooperation with the company Oldelft and the departement of Acoustical imaging and Sound Control and the Laboratory of Electronic Instrumentation of the University of Technology in Delft.