Developing a new ultrasound technology

Many heart patients suffer from arrhythmia – for example, heart palpitations – which impedes the heart’s ability to beat effectively. (Illustration:Colourbox)

European research groups are joining forces to develop a new ultrasound system and improve treatment for heart patients. The Norwegian Center for Cardiological Innovation (CCI) will play a key role.

The EU project, “Ultrasound guided cardiac arrhythmia treatment" (USART), is starting up in November this year.

The CCI at Oslo University Hospital is one of 21 centres granted status as a Centre for Research-based Innovation (SFI) by the Research Council of Norway.

Fighting arrhythmi

Many heart patients suffer from arrhythmia – for example, heart palpitations – which impedes the heart’s ability to beat effectively. Pacemaker implantation is one of the most well-known methods of treating this type of affliction.

“Ultrasound is currently used primarily to reach a diagnosis and determine the type of treatment the patient should receive. During the actual treatment, X-rays are mostly used. We intend to further develop this technology to make more use of ultrasound in the treatment phase – as we believe that we can learn vital information with ultrasound technology that X-rays can’t provide,” says Dr Eigil Samset.

Dr Samset is Center Co-ordinator at CCI and part of its management group. In addition, he works at GE Vingmed Ultrasound which is one of CCI’s most important industrial partners. GE Vingmed and the Belgian university KU Leuven are partners in the USART project.

“This project will benefit from the Oslo University Hospital’s clinical expertise in the field. I believe we will see some very interesting synergies emerging between the SFI project and the EU project and this will help to strengthen our international network.”

Researchers on the move

The budget for the USART project totals EUR 1.3 million over 4 years. It is organised under the Marie Curie Actions Research Fellowship Programme – one of the EU’s mobility programmes aimed at enabling European researchers to work in other countries for a period of time.

“We have been looking for candidates outside Norway and look forward to the added dimension that international participation will give to the project. The USART project provides funding for five doctoral students who will spend at least half of their work time here with us. There has been an excellent applicant response, and we will be able to select the best of the best,” Eigil Samset explains.

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