With exciting technology at every turn, The Bill Holmes Tower at CHOC Children’s is filled with the latest equipment and innovations – and the CHOC Heart Institute is no exception. Set to open in the new space next month, the Heart Institute and its Heart Center boasts advanced technology that will help physicians ensure successful patient outcomes.
Dr. Anthony C. Chang (on left) – the Heart Institute’s medical director who also leads a group of medical community members charged with exploring changing medical technology – talks more about the innovations inside the Heart Institute.
Q: What new equipment and technology will be found inside the Heart Institute?
A: We’ll have advanced imaging such as three-dimensional (3-D) real-time echocardiography, and magnetic resonance (MR) and computed tomography (CT) angiography with 3-D anatomic reconstruction.
One of our two cardiac catheterization labs will be a hybrid laboratory so that both diagnostic and interventional cases can occur. Also, we’ll have a cardiopulmonary stress testing suite, where we can perform stress tests and stress echocardiogram testing.
For the first time, these services will be available under one roof: It’s like a separate heart hospital.
Q: What are the advantages of a 3-D echocardiography?
A: An echocardiogram is an ultrasound-derived image, and with a regular echocardiogram, you see a two-dimensional picture on a screen. It doesn’t give you any depth – it’s just basically slices of images. A 3-D echocardiogram gives you depth and a more detailed picture of the heart’s anatomy. It’s like watching a 3-D movie: You get more depth and a more realistic picture. This is particularly important in children because their heart defects can be so complicated.
Q: What are the benefits of 3-D reconstruction in MR and CT angiography?
A: Angiography creates images of the heart’s blood vessels. MR angiography uses magnetic fields, and CT angiography incorporates contrast dye that is injected into a vein. Both techniques generate an image of the heart, but a 3-D image gives us a clearer and more detailed picture. Again, this is state-of-the-art imaging to look at heart defects in children.
Q: How is today’s technology improving the care and outcomes for young patients with heart conditions?
A: Technology leads to more precise diagnoses and better imaging.
Q: What advancements can we expect to see in the near future?
A: Innovation is leading toward equipment and techniques that create less invasive ways to assess and treat a patient’s heart.
Q: What features are you most excited about in the new Heart Institute?
A: Technology is very exciting, but we’re also working toward developing several other clinics within the institute, such as a heart failure clinic; a sports heart health clinic; and a clinic for overweight and obese children; and a cardiovascular genetics clinic. I would like the Heart Institute/Center to become a community resource for heart health.
For more information about the CHOC Children’s Heart Institute, please visit http://www.choc.org/heart/.