Fresno doctors using 4D technology to diagnose heart problems

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Dorothy suffered a stroke. At first, doctors couldn't find a cause, then a revolutionary system revealed a problem. (KFSN)

Dorothy Juskalian suffered a small stroke. At first, doctors couldn't find an obvious cause but then a revolutionary imaging system revealed a hidden problem that likely led to the stroke: a hole in her heart.

"The doctors felt that I probably was born with it but never had any symptoms and never knew until this happened."

Dorothy's condition was detected by a new 4D imaging system that gives doctors the most advanced look inside the body to date.

No longer restricted to a flat, 2D image, doctors can now see the width and depth of organs and body structures to help in a diagnosis. Enhancing the 4D view, is color doppler technology. Much like you see on a weather map, the doppler colors indicate the movement of a system.

Doctor Fred Valles, cardiologist, at St. Agnes Medical Center explained, "If, for example, see a patient who's short of breath, let's say, and we do an echo and we say, ok, you have a leaky valve, I can, with more certainly say to the patient that it is or not the valve that is causing your symptoms."

A patient lays on an exam table and an ultrasound wand is used on the surface of the chest, above the heart, so it's non-invasive and can reveal heart disease or a defect in minutes.

The 4D images can also be used to look into the future in a way, by revealing potential health problems that are inherited and passed onto a patient's family members.

"Kids, siblings and parents would benefit from a particular diagnosis because they know they need to be looked at and screened," said Doctor Valles.

Dorothy is waiting for more tests to find the source of the hole in her heart, then she'll undergo treatment for it.

Until then, she's relieved a state-of-the-art machine revealed a life-saving picture of her health. "I'm very fortunate."

St. Agnes Medical Center in Fresno is the first hospital in the Central Valley to offer the 4D doppler imaging. It's a critical tool in the diagnosis and treatment of heart conditions, but can be used for other areas of the body.
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