Remember that great episode of The Magic Schoolbus, where the class took a field trip through the human body? This little chip could be as close as we ever need to get to that dream, by providing a real-time 3D view from within the heart and blood vessels.
The device, whipped up by a team at Georgia Tech, packs 56 ultrasound transmitters and 48 receivers on a 1.5 mm wide chip. When placed at the end of a cardiac catheter wire, the chip can be guided through the circulatory system to provide an interior view of the heart, the coronary arteries, and peripheral blood vessels, helping doctors more accurately locate and evaluate blockages in the circulatory system.
F. Levent Degertekin, who led the project, explained it this way:
If you're a doctor, you want to see what is going on inside the arteries and inside the heart, but most of the devices being used for this today provide only cross-sectional images. If you have an artery that is totally blocked, for example, you need a system that tells you what's in front of you. You need to see the front, back and sidewalls altogether. That kind of information is basically not available at this time.
Image: Rob Felt / Georgia Tech