Press Release

Medical Technologies International and NASA Johnson Space Center Partner on Cardiovascular Testing Initiative for Astronauts and Trainees

By SpaceRef Editor
August 10, 2009
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ArterioVision Test Uses Technology Originally Developed by NASA

Medical Technologies International, Inc., (MTI) announced today that it has partnered with the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) to help clarify and monitor the cardiovascular health of the Center’s astronauts and trainees. JSC will utilize MTI’s ArterioVision(TM) test, a unique tool that enables physicians to safely and accurately detect early warning signs of cardiovascular disease. The ArterioVision procedure was developed using the same imaging technology that NASA originally employed to detect the presence of ice on Mars.

ArterioVision is an excellent example of NASA technology coming full circle. Scientists at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory worked with Medical Technologies International to take technology originally used in space, and adapt it for a crucial medical application that will be used to reduce health risks and help save lives.

NASA will use ArterioVision at JSC to monitor the cardiovascular health of astronauts as they train for flight missions. JSC hopes to use the ArterioVision test as a preventive medicine screening tool for its employees, as part of an integrated wellness exam aimed at keeping employees healthy, and thereby reducing costs from lost work days.

The ArterioVision carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT) test uses ultrasound technology to measure the thickness of the first two layers of the carotid artery wall. The FDA-cleared procedure determines whether there has been a build-up of fats causing the wall to thicken. Wall thickening is the earliest noninvasive indicator of atherosclerosis – the underlying cause of heart attack and stroke. The test provides the “age” of a patient’s arteries based on CIMT, compared to one’s chronological age. ArterioVision is quick and painless, and does not expose patients to radiation.

ArterioVision was developed by Medical Technologies International founder and Chairman/CEO Gary F. Thompson in partnership with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the California Institute of Technology, and the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. The scientists and engineers adapted technology that was originally created at JPL in 1966 to interpret images sent from space. That software, which was invented to process pictures from several missions, including the Voyagers and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, forms the foundation for the software used in the ArterioVision CIMT test. Thompson worked with the research team to transfer the technology from the laboratory to physicians’ offices throughout the country.

“I recognized the medical value of the technology immediately,” Thompson said. “I knew there was no other test that could give doctors an early read on cardiovascular health.” Thompson added that if a patient were physically fit, with no visible symptoms, other cardiovascular tests may miss key risk. “That’s why ArterioVision will be so valuable for NASA. Astronauts may have evidence of heart disease but not know it. Because they are so fit, they may pass all the usual tests. I am very pleased that we have been able to take NASA’s original technology, and make it available to their medical team.”

Thompson spearheaded the clinical application of ArterioVision after he suffered a heart attack at age 50 while running a marathon. Visibly healthy and physically fit, he had passed a battery of medical tests prior to his attack. Recognizing that the standard tests were not identifying all at-risk patients, Thompson worked with the scientists at Caltech, JPL and USC to bring ArterioVision out of the research lab and into clinical practice. In 2008 the team was one of three companies in the world inducted into the nonprofit Space Technology Hall of Fame. This year they have been nominated for the prestigious National Medal of Technology and Innovation, which will be awarded by President Obama in a White House ceremony.

About Medical Technologies International, Inc.

Medical Technologies International, Inc. (MTI) helps doctors noninvasively detect and treat heart disease and stroke, using award-winning, FDA-cleared, NASA-originated technology for the early detection and monitoring of atherosclerotic vascular disease, the #1 cause of morbidity and mortality in the nation. This is accomplished by using proprietary ultrasound image processing software and scientific methodology developed at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and the Atherosclerosis Research Unit (ARU) at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC). In addition to its proprietary, patented products, MTI maintains an exclusive perpetual, worldwide license with Caltech and USC. For more information, visit

About Johnson Space Center

Johnson Space Center (JSC) was established in 1961 as the Manned Spacecraft Center and, in 1973, renamed in honor of the late President and Texas native, Lyndon B. Johnson. From the early Gemini, Apollo and Skylab projects to today’s space shuttle, International Space Station and Exploration Programs, the center continues to lead NASA’s efforts in human space exploration. The JSC civil service workforce consists of about 3,000 employees, the majority of whom are professional engineers and scientists. Of these, approximately 110 are astronauts. About 50 companies provide contractor personnel to JSC, with more than 12,000 contractors working onsite or in nearby office buildings and other facilities.

In addition to being home to America’s astronauts, JSC leads NASA’s flight-related scientific and medical research efforts. The center strives to make revolutionary discoveries and advances to benefit all humankind. Technologies developed originally for spaceflight have already found a wide range of applications in medicine, energy, transportation, agriculture, communications and electronics.

SpaceRef staff editor.