Vall d’Hebron develops the world’s first 4D transesophageal probe for children with heart disease

The Vall d’Hebron Hospital (Barcelona) and General Electric Healthcare, leading multinational company in cardiac imaging, have co-developed the first 4D transesophageal probe in the world that allows exploration of the heart of all pediatric patients: from babies from five kilos to teenagers. Is named 9VT-D.

Congenital heart defects are most common congenital malformations: eight out of every thousand children who are born all over the world suffer from them. Only in Catalonia, each year some 600 children with congenital heart disease, of which around 25% will need a surgical intervention, most before reaching one year of life. To improve the diagnosis and surgical treatment of congenital heart disease, to know the exact heart physiology of each pediatric patient is crucial.

“The new 9VTD transesophageal probe has a extraordinary image quality, that offers a exact correlation between the cardiac image and the anatomy of the patients, which allows more precise planning of the surgical interventions and catheterizations that are most suitable for each child. And all this with a minimum size, which allows it to be used even in newborns from five kilos of weight”, highlights Ferran Roses, Clinical Chief of Pediatric Cardiology at Vall d’Hebron, CSUR reference center in Catalonia in the care of pediatric patients with heart disease and the only center in Catalonia with a pediatric heart failure program and pediatric heart transplantation.

“The new technology of the 9VT-D probe has been built in a miniaturized, grouping the latest 4D technology in a flexible probe that has a diameter of 3.5 millimeters, compared to the more than 10 millimeters used for adult patients. Due to its thickness, the adult 4D transesophageal probe could not be used in patients with less than 20 kilos, in which up to now a 2D transesophageal probe was used, which offers less information and image detail,” says Gemma Giralt, pediatric cardiologist at Vall d’Hebron.


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Transesophageal ultrasound uses ultrasound to produce an image of the heart and see how it works, just like the transthoracic conventional echocardiography, but the sound waves are sent through a tube that is inserted through the mouth and throat, until it reaches the esophagus. In this way, the cardiac structures are appreciated with much more precision as the heart is in contact with the esophagus and the fat on the skin, ribs and lungs does not obstruct the ultrasound.

The 9VT-D zone offers three dimensional images with real-time movement of the heart, has a length of 90 centimeters and allows a field of 90 degree vision. In addition to one vivid image quality, Comparable to that of an MRI, it has applications such as the dual crop, which allows the selected section of the heart to be viewed simultaneously from two perspectives (for example, from the ventricle and from the aorta). It also has 4D markers to mark points that act as a guide during the ultrasound and are kept at change the image from two-dimensional to 4D.

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