Cardiac Scanner to Improve Diagnostic Process

1 February 2010 (Last Updated February 1st, 2010 18:30)

A breakthrough cardiac scanner to improve the process of diagnosing heart conditions has been developed by the University of Leeds, UK. The portable magnetometer measures magnetic fields and can detect a number of conditions, including heart problems in foetuses, earlier than diagnostic

A breakthrough cardiac scanner to improve the process of diagnosing heart conditions has been developed by the University of Leeds, UK.

The portable magnetometer measures magnetic fields and can detect a number of conditions, including heart problems in foetuses, earlier than diagnostic techniques such as ultrasound, electrocardiogram and existing cardiac magnetometers.

The scanner will be smaller, simpler to operate and be able to gather more information significantly cheaper than other devices available, researchers said.

Skilled nurses as well as doctors will for the first time be able to carry out heart scans, reducing hospital waiting lists.

The device will also function through clothes, will save time needed to perform scans and can also be taken out to a patient's home.

University of Leeds Professor Ben Varcoe, who is leading the research team, said that the new system gets round previous difficulties by putting the actual detector in its own magnetic shield.

"What we've been able to do is combine existing technology from the areas of atomic physics and medical physics in a completely unique way," Varcoe said.

The team is now working on miniaturising the magnetometer for widespread medical use and the device could be ready for use in routine diagnosis in around three years.