Real-time 3D ultrasound: A new look at the heart
Matrix array ultrasound is a medical imaging modality in which a 3D volume is scanned electronically without physically moving the transducer, permitting rapid continuous 3D scanning of the heart. Unlike reconstructive 3D ultrasound, which relies on physically moving a linear array and acquires data during multiple cardiac cycles gated to the ECG, matrix array ultrasound has no moving parts, resulting in a scan rate rapid enough (22 frames/second) to smoothly sample heart motion within a single cardiac cycle. Therefore, these cardiac studies have been described as real time, and the modality itself has been labeled Real-Time 3D (RT3D) ultrasound. We review the first application of matrix array ultrasound to in vivo cardiac imaging of normal volunteers, describing methods of displaying the data during the scan, as well as afterwards on a graphics replay station. We conclude that by introducing the capability of real-time 3D cardiac imaging, matrix array ultrasound provides an important new clinical tool.