“Microbubbles” provide safer, better way to gauge pressure in the heart.

Chicago, IL -- Experts from The Jefferson Ultrasound Research and Education Institute, the world’s largest ultrasound facility, with a global network of affiliate training centers in over 50 countries, today announced results of a new animal study showing that microbubble contrast agents can safely and effectively improve ultrasound imaging and help measure pressure inside the heart -- without exposing patients to ionizing radiation, which can increase a patient’s lifetime risk of cancer. Moments ago, study findings were released at the annual International Contrast Ultrasound Society (ICUS) medical conference in Chicago by Flemming Forsberg, Ph.D., Director of the Ultrasound Physics Department of Radiology at Thomas Jefferson University. “Our study findings are exciting and good news for patients at risk for heart disease because measuring pressure inside the heart is becoming safer, more accurate and more widely accessible because it is less expensive.” Researchers releasing news from the study reported that the procedure could also replace invasive and expensive catheter-based heart measurements which are currently a standard of care and involve surgical insertion of a wire that passes through the lower body or neck and into the heart. Other forms of cardiac imaging may expose patients to dangerous levels of ionizing radiation or dye, which can cause allergic reactions. CT scans have come under increasing FDA oversight with reports of massive ionizing radiation overdoses being given to patients in an effort to enhance clarity. In addition, SPECT imaging faces a potentially unsolvable shortage of medical isotopes or nuclear tracers.    “Contrast agents used for ultrasound imaging can improve the accuracy of an echocardiogram of the heart and can reduce overall diagnostic costs without radiation,” according to Dr. Steven Feinstein, Director of Echocardiography at Rush University Medical Center and Co-President of the International Contrast Ultrasound Society, which sponsored the conference in Chicago. Heart disease is the #1 cause of death and is a major cause of disability in the U.S.

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