Medical device maker St. Jude Medical Inc. is behind the 3D mapping technology that drew rave reviews in helping to repair a heart in Boston recently.

Boston doctors used X-ray imaging with MediGuide Technology, a 3D navigation system intended to evaluate the heart and blood vessels on a recorded X-ray image instead of through a series of X-rays, to repair damage from atrial fibrillation.

Launched in October, MediGuide is similar to cardiac mapping and modeling systems, which have been around for about a decade. But this system, accurate to less than a millimeter, allows doctors to reduce the duration of radiation exposure from X-rays during heart and vascular procedures.

“This revolutionary system reduces the need for live fluoroscopy (X-rays), while providing unprecedented views inside the heart, improving complex cardiac resynchronization therapy and cardiac ablation image-guided procedures for physicians, patients and medical staff around the world,” Dhanunjaya Lakkireddy, a heart specialist at the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kan., said in a press release.

MediGuide Technology allows physicians to see the precise location and orientation of sensors inside the heart with its Medical Position System (gMPS). Using magnetic tracking to locate miniature sensors embedded in devices, MediGuide is similar to GPS in that it uses an electromagnetic field to locate the sensors in 3-D space. The system uses location data to overlay real-time information on a 2D X-ray image.

Doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston used the system to guide a catheter up a blood vessel in the leg and into the heart to repair it. Typically, surgery to treat atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat that can lead to a stroke, would involve exposing patients to constant X-rays, allowing for radiation exposure. But Dr. Moussa Mansour of Mass General Hospital told television station WBZ in Boston that the new technology cut the use of X-rays by as much as 90 percent.

Developed in Israel, MediGuide was acquired by St. Paul, Minn.-based St. Jude Medical for about $300 million in late 2008.

On Dec. 22, 2008, Daniel J. Starks, chairman, president and CEO of St. Jude Medical, said in a special conference call with stock analysts that the company “can envision a future where our cath lab staff does not have to wear lead, where medical careers are not shortened by back injuries or radiation exposure, and where catheterization and other minimally invasive procedures can be completed more quickly, safely, and cost-effectively due in part to the future of our MediGuide navigation technology.”

It appears Starks’ vision is one step closer to reality, thanks to the 3D mapping system.