June 7, 2007 — NASA space technology is helping doctors diagnose and monitor treatments for hardening of the arteries in its early stages, before it causes heart attacks and strokes.
Hospitals and doctors around the country are using ArterioVision software initially developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) along with a standardized, painless, non-invasive ultrasound examination of the carotid artery, which carries blood from the heart to the brain.
A standard carotid ultrasound measures plaque and blood flow within the artery. When an ultrasound is used with the software, the test measures the thickness of the inner two layers of the carotid artery, the intima and media. Medical Technologies International, Inc. (MTI) patented the ArterioVision software.
Arterial thickening provides the earliest evidence of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, the beginning stage of a disease process that leads to heart disease and stroke. Doctors can use this carotid intima media thickness (CIMT) measurement to calculate the age of the patient' s arteries, which does not always match the patient's calendar age.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the new diagnostic tool, called the ArterioVision CIMT procedure.
"This is such a precise method of examining the carotid artery. It can distinguish between 256 shades of gray at a subpixel level," said Robert Selzer, MTI chief engineer. "You need that kind of detail to help catch heart disease as early as you can, often before there are any outward symptoms."
For more information visit: www.nasa.gov