Technical Note: A 3-D rendering algorithm for electromechanical wave imaging of a beating heart

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Arrhythmias can be treated by ablating the heart tissue in the regions of abnormal contraction. The current clinical standard provides electroanatomic 3-D maps to visualize the electrical activation and locate the arrhythmogenic sources. However, the procedure is time-consuming and invasive. Electromechanical wave imaging is an ultrasound-based noninvasive technique that can provide 2-D maps of the electromechanical activation of the heart. In order to fully visualize the complex 3-D pattern of activation, several 2-D views are acquired and processed separately. They are then manually registered with a 3-D rendering software to generate a pseudo-3-D map. However, this last step is operator-dependent and time-consuming.


This paper presents a method to generate a full 3-D map of the electromechanical activation using multiple 2-D images. Two canine models were considered to illustrate the method: one in normal sinus rhythm and one paced from the lateral region of the heart. Four standard echographic views of each canine heart were acquired. Electromechanical wave imaging was applied to generate four 2-D activation maps of the left ventricle. The radial positions and activation timings of the walls were automatically extracted from those maps. In each slice, from apex to base, these values were interpolated around the circumference to generate a full 3-D map.


In both cases, a 3-D activation map and a cine-loop of the propagation of the electromechanical wave were automatically generated. The 3-D map showing the electromechanical activation timings overlaid on realistic anatomy assists with the visualization of the sources of earlier activation (which are potential arrhythmogenic sources). The earliest sources of activation corresponded to the expected ones: septum for the normal rhythm and lateral for the pacing case.


The proposed technique provides, automatically, a 3-D electromechanical activation map with a realistic anatomy. This represents a step towards a noninvasive tool to efficiently localize arrhythmias in 3-D.

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