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UCH Doctors Honored for Advances in Circulatory, Cardiac Imaging

Carroll, Chen "Inventors of the Year"

In a 2007 live presentation,
UCH interventional cardiologist
John Carroll demonstrates a heart
model and device used in the
successful repair of an atrial
septal defect.

John Carroll, MD, and James Chen, PhD, earned "Inventors of the Year" honors in January 2009 from the University of Colorado's Technology Transfer Office for their work in advanced 3-D imaging and modeling of vascular structures and the heart.

Carroll, an interventional cardiologist, and Chen, University of Colorado Denver associate professor of medicine, worked together for years to develop a three-dimensional model of a patient's coronary artery, as well as physical models of the arterial tree and the heart.

They then brought those advances to the clinical setting with the goal of improving patient outcomes.

Patients benefit from more accurate placements


A 3-D image of an arterial tree, a result
of advanced vascular imaging techniques
developed by Carroll and Chen.

Carroll and Chen created three-dimensional images of a patient's coronary artery that allow doctors to make more accurate placements of stents, tiny wire-mesh tubes mounted on a balloon catheter and expanded to "flatten" plaque against the artery walls.

The improved imaging allows cardiologists to visualize more accurately the arterial lesion's location and size. It also helps them choose a stent with proper dimensions prior to the procedure – greatly minimizing the risk of a failed placement.

From imaging to heart models

Drs. Carroll and Chen built on their work with the assistance of two key contributors, research assistant Adam Hansgen and Interventional Cardiology Fellow Mike Kim, MD, to create a physical model of a patient's heart from CTA (computed tomography angiography) data.

James Chen, PhD, is
Associate Professor of

In a groundbreaking 2007 presentation that was broadcast via satellite to a meeting of thousands of cardiologists, Carroll and Joseph Kay, MD, head of UCH's Adult Congenital Heart Disease program, used a patient-specific heart model to plan, and successfully complete, a repair of that patient's atrial septal defect (an opening between the two upper chambers of the heart).

Going forward, Carroll and Chen plan to generate more recognition and acceptance of precision heart models as valuable components of cardiac care. They also hope the model will speed FDA approval of medical devices.

Breakthroughs in patient care

The physicians at University of Colorado Hospital and the University of Colorado School of Medicine are recognized as pioneers of new treatments designed to improve patient outcomes. Find out more about the doctors who practice at UCH.


This page is adapted from a story that appeared in the UCH Insider, the hospital's candid e-newsletter. The Insider, which is published biweekly, is available to people outside the hospital via a free e-mail subscription. Tyler Smith ( is managing editor of the Insider.


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