MINIATURE ultrasonic probes are showing cardiologists more about coronary and peripheral vasculature than ever before.
The new devices, developed separately during the last several years by four northern California-based companies, combine a catheter with an ultrasound transducer that is based on a wafer-thin chip to produce ultrasharp cross-sectional images. The resulting views of arterial narrowing delineate fibrous plaque as well as soft fatty plaque much better than such earlier techniques as contrast angiography or computed resonance imaging, say investigators. The new technique also provides an image of the arterial wall and enables measurement of the mass of the atheroma—both beyond the capability of angiography, they point out.
The companies at work on this new device are Diasonics, which is located in Milpitas, working in conjunction with Boston Scientific; Endosonics, in Pleasanton; Cardiovascular Imaging Systems, in Sunnyvale; and InterTherapy, in Costa Mesa.
The electronic innovation necessary to create these new devices