Myocardial infarctions (MI) are highly dangerous while being susceptible to life saving treatments if they are delivered soon after onset of symptoms. Yet, diagnosing MI outside the hospital without ECG, cardiac markers, or other technologies can be a challenge, one that can delay treatment and result in the gravest of outcomes.
Jason Castle, a scientist at GE Global Research, has been investigating specialty microbubbles as an ultrasound contrast agent for seeing inside the heart. The microbubbles are tiny spheres about the size of red blood cells that are pressurized with gas and reflect ultrasound waves with high efficiency. Delivered through a typical IV injection, they travel through the bloodstream and eventually dissolve, releasing their gaseous cargo that is then exhaled as normal breath. But before that, as the bubble particles move through the heart, they amplify the ultrasound image and illuminate the organ’s internal function to help diagnose MI or other pathophysiologic conditions in about the time it takes to place an IV and have the microbubbles reach the heart.
Here’s Jason Castle explaining the motivation for researching this new technology: