New Digital Echocardiography Enhances Real Time Images

With a one million dollar investment in echocardiography equipment, San Diego's Palomar Health has become the first health-care facility in North County to offer super 2-D digital imaging of cardiovascular functions.

At the heart of the advanced diagnostic technology are four Philips iE33 intelligent echocardiography systems. Three have been installed at Palomar Medical Center Escondido and one at Palomar Medical Center Poway. This new generation of cardiac ultrasound equipment uses high-definition imaging to help physicians diagnose cardiovascular disease earlier.

Echocardiography was pioneered in 1953, when existing ultrasound technology was applied to provide images of the heart. The next major advancement in echocardiography came in the late 1970s, when 2-D cross-sectional views were made possible. Today, new digital capabilities enable physicians to accurately produce crystal clear, real-time images of the heart in a safe, non-invasive manner.

The new system facilitates quicker, less costly diagnosis and treatment of heart disease. It includes Xcelera information management and digital reading stations that enable physicians to access and view echocardiography, vascular and catheterization lab studies by computer from any location.

“We are able to provide better patient care and save lives because digital echocardiography allows us to distinguish between healthy and damaged tissue more quickly and accurately,” says Douglas Moir, M.D., a board-certified cardiologist on staff at Palomar Medical Center Escondido. “For example, the improved data quality and quantity reduces the need for the patient to undergo other, more invasive imaging studies. With digital echocardiography, we can characterize heart valve structure more definitively before surgery, so that we have a better sense of what needs to be done.”

Digital echocardiography also helps patients better understand their diagnosis. “Seeing is believing, and when you show patients the location and extent of plaque in the arteries in living color images, they understand how high cholesterol is affecting their heart,” Dr. Moir says.


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