WCH Cardiology is on the pulse of technology

July 5, 2023

WCH echocardiogram technicians Shirley Li and Kathleen Marasigan with the new GE Vivid E95 v206 model echocardiogram machine.

Women’s College Hospital’s (WCH) cardiology department is continuing to revolutionize patient care and the care experience with the newest addition of industry leading technology to the department – the GE Vivid E95 v206 echocardiogram machine. WCH is the first institution in Canada to obtain implement this model, which is the known to be the leading echocardiogram machine in the field.

We spoke with Dr. Soohun Chun, cardiologist at WCH, to learn more about how access to this technology can improve care for our patients.

What is an echocardiogram machine?

Echocardiogram machines are used by technicians to take real-time ultrasound imagery of the heart. These images are used to assess heart-function, analyze for anomalies and assist in diagnoses of various heart diseases and defects. The machine allows technicians to see signs of heart failure, cardiomyopathy (difficulties pumping blood) or anything from an aneurysm to a tumor. It is one of the primary tools used by physicians to capture a look at the heart and its function.

Why would you need an echocardiogram?

Echocardiograms are typically used for patients experiencing various degrees of heart difficulty. This could mean routine assessments of how the heart is functioning or the need to confirm or obtain a diagnosis related to heart function.

What happens when you go in for echocardiogram imaging?

The echocardiogram machine has a probe attachment just as an ultrasound machine would. The probe is covered with jelly and then pressed to the chest wall where the images read by the machine will be displayed to the technician on a screen. Though it can be an uncomfortable process for the patient to have this probing done, our new machine has a smaller probe than previous models, reducing the level of discomfort.

The technician will use various imaging tools like 3D imaging to best capture a look at your heart and its function. Previous echocardiogram machines on the market would require the technician to manually go into the machine and request various imaging tools. WCH’s new machine has automation to apply all imaging techniques without the added steps for the technician – this speeds up the imaging and diagnostic process.

What are the benefits of the new echocardiogram machine?

Efficient and exact diagnostics come from a combination of skilled technicians and precise tools, and new features of the machine make way for several improvements to the technician and patient experience. Capturing images to a quality previously inaccessible, the new echocardiogram machine enables clarity for diagnostics. Technicians are better able to read images and analyze results. In turn, patients receive diagnoses at a faster rate. Machine features like imaging tool automation will assist physicians in quantifying data to reach the most accurate conclusions.

“We are always trying to be a leader in ambulatory care, and echocardiography is a huge part of that,” says Dr. Chun. “Cardiology practice is the bulk of diagnostic tests that we do, so we want to offer the best service to differentiate ourselves from hundreds of other labs in the province.”