Heart scanner allows earlier diagnosis

Impact summary

Professor Ben Varcoe, of our theoretical physics group, has led research into developing a device which looks set to change the ways that heart disease is diagnosed, based on quantum information principles.

The new and patented methodology detects and records the magnetic physiological signals associated with electrical signals present in certain body tissues. The device performs a simple and passive scan at the patient’s bedside in around five minutes. This creates various data points and a 2D representation of the heart as a whole.

Cells in the heart that lack oxygen (angina related) or are necrotic (indicating heart attack) distort the data points, allowing events to be recognised and the image of the distorted map to be displayed.

Underpinning research

Whilst quantum information principles, which underpins the technology featured in the new device, have been around for half a century, it was research led by Professor Varcoe that found a new way to transfer these principles into a new technology platform.

Originally, two separate pieces of technology that would detect and record the magnetic field were being worked on, but the research discovered that one solution solved both problems.

The device has been designed to be used by existing emergency room staff, who will require little training as the device is very simple to use.

Other areas apart from cardiac medicine such as urology also look set to benefit from this device.