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This Software Helps Doctors Treat the Tiniest Hearts

Maggie Sieger
December 19, 2017
Over the last decade, Dr. Ferran Rosés i Noguer, head of the pediatric cardiology department at Hospital Vall d’Hebron in Barcelona, Spain, has dedicated his efforts to studying his tiny patients’ hearts to help them get better.
This year, Rosés got his hands on a new ultrasound system that has changed the way he is able to care for patients like David, who was born with a congenital heart defect.

Immediately after birth, David underwent a heart operation, but one of the valves in his heart began leaking. The baby boy had symptoms of heart failure and could not be discharged from the hospital. After extensive evaluation, the team decided to surgically implant a new valve to help his heart.

The surgery was successful, yet a few days later, while recovering in Cardiac Intensive Care, things took a turn for the worse. David had developed a fever and had signs of an infection. To take a closer look, Rosés used GE Healthcare’s Vivid E95 ultrasound system with new powerful software. The image quality and definition were outstanding and allowed him to see the valve clearly, like never before. “It was as if someone turned on the lights,” Rosés recalls.

That’s because the software enabled his team to enhance ultrasound images pouring in from the scanner at a rate of more than 300 frames per second. The software then tracked the cells as they traveled through the heart.

Top and above: Software from GE Healthcare enabled Dr. Ferran Rosés i Noguer and his team to enhance ultrasound images and track the blood cells as they traveled through the heart. GIF credits: Dr. Ferran Rosés i Noguer.

Rosés was checking that the valve in David’s heart was not clotted or infected. Rosés knew that any restricted blood flow through that valve eventually could lead to heart damage or a new complex heart operation.

To the relief of the boy’s parents, results showed that blood was flowing freely. “I wouldn’t have been able to see the valve so clearly with other echo machines,” Rosés says. Today, David continues to be monitored but is doing well.

Rosés also has used the machine to help him implant a pacemaker in a 13-year-old girl who suffered from severe heart failure. The surgery was particularly delicate, requiring Rosés to insert wires into three of the four chambers of her heart. He needed to make sure that the wires, which pulse electricity into the heart to force it to contract, were in perfect synchronization and at the right level of power to allow the heart to beat but not put unnecessary strain on the muscle.

“I was able to add the electrodes, test them and then adjust the pacemaker practically in real time thanks to the new system’s excellent tissue definition,” Rosés says.

Rosés believes this software release will help treat patients with complex hearts, in particular because of new tools that have significantly improved the image quality.

“It’s amazing. We can spend time looking at things we couldn’t see before,” Rosés says.