Innovative heart phantom has been developed at AGH UST

photo - private archive of AGH UST

AGH UST has recently released a multi-modality heart phantom. The model created by DSc Katarzyna Matusiak of the Faculty of Physics and Applied Computer Science is used for calibration of diagnostic tools used in hospitals. It is the first phantom to offer reading as well as accurate superimposition of medical images, particularly those required for cardiology procedures, obtained from various types of imaging devices.

Accurate diagnosis in cardiology is closely related to the quality of imaging done during the medical examination. Recent years show a surge in demand for so called hybrid equipment, which enables doctors to obtain information about both physiology and anatomy of the organ at exactly the same time. In this way, they can detect minor pathological changes together with their exact location during one procedure. The majority of Polish hospitals have no access to such devices, which is why it is so important that images obtained from the equipment they do have access to could be superimposed in a manner that will guarantee the same level of precision as those offered by the hybrid technology. To make it possible, the equipment must be properly calibrated. So far, each device has had its own set of phantoms, which could not be easily used with a different imaging method. In contrast, the multimodality phantom developed at AGH UST is suitable for multiple use with various test modes.

The model developed by DSc Matusiak resembles a medium-sized aquarium, whose central element is a wall-mounted heart made from organic glass. This artificial organ has the same size as the human heart and is made from a transparent material whose density is similar to that of natural human tissues. The main function of the phantom is to indicate the point of contact between the patient’s right and left ventricles. This is what makes it possible to superimpose – with a great degree of precision – medical images obtained during a medical examination. In addition, the device allows doctors to specify the optimum patient position during the examination for the best results. Unlike other phantoms available commercially, the solution designed at AGH UST allows identical positioning of the patient for all diagnostic procedures such as magnetic resonance or computing tomography.

The correct operation of hospital apparatus is the responsibility of medical physicists,  who ensure error-free performance of many medical devices through, among other things, daily quality tests. DSc Katarzyna Matusiak – the creator of the phantom – points out:
– Our multimodality heart phantom is currently used in Kraków hospitals. The research conducted using the model is also an experimental basis for undergraduate projects delivered by medical physics students from the Faculty of Physics and Applied Computer Science at AGH UST. Not many people are aware that medical physicists are classified as medical professionals. Their work is of great importance for proper medical diagnosis. This year, the invention received a nomination for the Eureka Award, which recognizes the most promising Polish inventions.