Firm hails revolution of 3D heart technology

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 March, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 March, 2003, 12:00am

An American manufacturer has arrived in Hong Kong to promote new technology that allows physicians to see a beating human heart as a transparent, three-dimensional image, saying it could improve patients' chances of survival.

According to cardiologist Joseph Kisslo, of Duke University Medical Centre in the United States, the new ultrasound machine can turn average heart surgeons into world class physicians by helping them diagnose and treat the disease more efficiently.

Using the machines, which have been in research and development for about 20 years and cost $2.3 million each, cardiologists can get a better view of a heart's valves and chambers and can view the transparent image from different angles using a computer mouse.

Ultrasound machines, which are non-intrusive, use sounds to create an image of an internal organ. Until now, physicians have relied on chest X-rays and two-dimensional ultrasound machines to diagnose heart disease.

'We can bring the best surgery to more people because we simplify everything,' Dr Kisslo said.

'Now you get the whole story in just one picture. It gives a better picture and makes us doctors more equal.'

Philips Medical Systems launched its product in Hong Kong yesterday and hopes to sell it to both private and public hospitals. It has sold about 100 to hospitals in the US since launching the machines last November.

Heart disease is the number two cause of death in Hong Kong, behind cancer, and has been steadily claiming more lives each year.

According to the most recent figures available from the Department of Health, in the year 2000 about 5,537 people died from heart disease, a rise from 4,806 in 1997.

Dr Kisslo said: 'Heart disease is clearly on the rise in Hong Kong.'