Ultrasound technology captures life-like heart images

Traditional ultrasound allows doctors to see patients' hearts, but those photos are nowhere as detailed as they would like. Now, GE Healthcare has developed advanced software called "cSound" for its new cardiovascular ultrasound machines that can render realistic 4D -- that's 3D plus time -- heart images. GE claims cSound is so powerful, it can crunch a full DVD's worth of data in just a second. If it comes across any data it can't process immediately, it stores that info and uses algorithms to analyze it to generate images as close to the real thing as possible. The software also has built-in color maps that assigns specific hues to different tissues.

GE believes the technology could eliminate the need for additional testing. According to cardiologist Bijoy Khandheria, it can improve diagnostic accuracy, since looking at the images is "like opening the chest and seeing the heart beating." Plus, it could prove especially useful for obese patients and other folks with lung disease and other serious illnesseses that them hard to scan.