DURHAM, N.C. Using 3-D ultrasound technology they designed, Duke University bioengineers can compensate for the thickness and unevenness of the skull to see in real-time the arteries within the brain that most often clog up and cause strokes.
The researchers believe that these advances will ultimately improve the treatment of stroke patients, whether by giving emergency medical technicians (EMT) the ability to quickly scan the heads of potential stroke victims while in the ambulance or allowing physicians to easily monitor in real time the patients response to therapy at the bedside.
The results of the latest studies were reported online in the journal Ultrasound in Medicine & Biology. The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the Duke Translational Medicine Institute, with assistance from the Duke Echocardiography Laboratory.
To our knowledge, this is the first time that real time 3-D ultrasound provided clear images of the major arteries within the brain, said Nikolas Ivancevich, graduate student in Dukes Pratt School of Engineering and first author of the paper. Also for the first time, we have been able overcome the most challenging aspect of using ultrasound to scan the brain the skull.
The Duke laboratory, led by biomedical engineering professor Stephen Smith, has a long track record of modifying traditional 2-D ultrasound like that used to image babies in utero into more advanced 3-D scans, which can provide more detailed information. After inventing the technique in 1991, the team has shown its utility in developing specialized catheters and endoscopes for imaging the heart and blood vessels.
This is an important step forward for scanning the vessels of the brain through the skull, and we believe that there are now no major technological barriers to ultimately using 3-D ultrasound to quickly diagnose stroke patients, said Smith, senior author of the paper.
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