RTI International, Research Triangle Park, NC, one of the world’s leading research institutes, has developed a prototype catheter that can generate live, streaming 3D ultrasound images from inside the heart. The device received a Cardiovascular Innovation Award at the 2013 Cardiovascular Research Technologies Annual Symposium. The technology, called a live volumetric imaging (LVI) intracardiac catheter, has the potential to improve catheter-based interventional heart procedures such as transcatheter valve therapies and cardiac ablation for arrhythmias.

Using an innovative matrix transducer array technology, called a piezoelectric micromachined ultrasound transducer, LVI offers a wide field of view with a high frame rate and deep penetration depth that allows the surgeon to see many angles of the heart. The array is made using semiconductor fabrication techniques. Located at the tip of a catheter inserted into the heart, the transducer generates acoustic signals processed by an ultrasound system to produce the live 3D image.

RTI is currently seeking partners interested in commercializing the LVI platform for medical applications. More information about the technology is available at www.rti.org/lvi .