A Stellar Treatment
If you ever spot the flashing light of the International Space Station (ISS) in its orbit during your spring evening walk, remember that GE Healthcare has its Vivid q on board. Vivid q is a compact ultrasound system roughly the size of a laptop which can provide clinical data and high-quality heart images that are crucial in understanding how the heart and its individual valves are functioning. It is part of NASA‘s new Human Research Program (HRP) that analyzes the effects of space travel on astronauts’ bodies.
NASA’s Human Research Program will examine the decrease in size of the heart muscle associated with long-term flights, evaluate the use of cardiovascular training of the ISS crew during long-term missions and look at the changes in the walls of blood vessel before and after exposure to microgravity. The extraordinary thing is that results from this study might also be applicable to people who suffer similar conditions on earth.
Vivid q became a real media star after being carried to astronauts on ISS by the Atlantis space shuttle during its final flight in July 2011. „Vivid q offers an interesting variety of applications for cardiology. We have introduced a new application just recently and started using Vivid q in the operating theater during surgery management of dialysis vascular shunts,“ says Jan Malik, a Czech cardiologist at the General Teaching Hospital in Prague.
Vivid q is used at the coronary department of the hospital for regular cardiology examinations as well as for medical consultations for patients ouside the cardiology department. „We also train the new generations of doctors in using such modern technologies,” says Malik who uses Vivid q during his lessons for medical students.
Last September, Malik demonstrated Vivid q in the 20-minute live Milenium program of the Czech Television station ČT24. “Since September 2011, we have used Vivid q technology at least 1,000 times for examining cardiology patients. We use it up to 12 times a day,“ Malik says, explaining the benefits of this new application of GE Healthcare´s technology. Surgery management of dialysis vascular shunts helps to resolve the patient´s high blood flow in a vessel. „In such cases we need to narrow the vessel and balance the blood flow to normal. The Vivid q ultrasound system enables us to monitor the vessel during surgery and see how the blood flows. Based on that information we can decide if the vessel is narrow enough and resolve the problem on the spot,” Malik adds.
The combination of miniaturization and high cardiovascular ultrasound performance has allowed the Vivid q to be used at events ranging from the Vancouver Winter Olympics to expeditions to the Himalaya Mountains. This technology has also enabled leading medical team missions from hospitals all over the world to remote villages. The organization Save a Child’s Heart, for example, is using Vivid i, another portable ultrasound system of GE Healthcare, to evaluate cardiac risks for children in Africa.