Health Prototype Grant for Single-Cable Ultrasound Catheter

Verya Daeichin, Douwe van Willigen, Martin Verweij, Michiel Pertijs and Nico de Jong received a Health Prototype Grant of €10K from the Delft Health Initiative for their project on a “Single-cable three-dimensional opto-acoustic imaging catheter”. The objective of the TU Delft Health Initiative is to promote research in the field of Healthcare at Delft University of Technology. Out of a total of 26 applications, 13 were granted.

Minimally-invasive interventions have revolutionized the healthcare industry, allowing outpatient clinical treatment, which is critical for healthcare in an aging population. Ultrasound imaging is one of the modalities that can fulfil all the requirements for these interventions: it is safe, cheap, real-time and can be made in small devices. Recently we have demonstrated catheter-based imaging devices and their potential, in context of the Perspectief Programme “Instruments for Minimally-Invasive Techniques (iMIT)”.

One of the main challenges in a catheter-based ultrasound imaging device is the number of cables required to connect the ultrasound elements to the imaging system (typically 64-128 cables). Therefore, it is extremely valuable to keep the number of interface connections limited to facilitate a more flexible probe shaft and to leave room for other required pieces such as a guidewire and/or an optical fiber. To address the challenge of miniaturizing 3D ultrasonic imaging devices within the stringent size constraints of a catheter, we have developed an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) of 1.5 mm by 1.5 mm which can handle a matrix of 64 ultrasonic transducers elements using only a single cable to generate a real-time 3D ultrasound images. We have realized a prototype of this device on a PCB and have shown its imaging capabilities. The research goal of this proposal is to demonstrate our unique technology in a form that is significantly closer to the final clinical application: integrated at the tip of a small cylinder and connected using a single micro-coax cable.

This project is a collaboration between the Ultrasound ASICs group of the Electronic Instrumentation Laboratory, and the Acoustic Wavefield Imaging group. It fits in the scope of our activities on devices for intra-vascular ultrasound (IVUS).