Thesis Defense: Ethan Bunting

Performance Analysis and Optimization of 2D Cardiac Strain Imaging for Clinical Applications

Sponsor: Prof. Elisa Konofagou

Date & Time: Tuesday, February 14, 2017 @ 2pm
Location: Todd Ampitheater, 16-405 Physicians and Surgeons Building (CUMC Campus)
Abstract: Heart disease has remained the deadliest disease in the United States for the past 100 years. Imaging methods are frequently employed in cardiology in order to help clinicians diagnose the specific type of heart disease and to guide treatment decisions. Ultrasound is the most frequently used imaging modality in cardiology because it is inexpensive, portable, easy to use, and extremely safe for patients. Using a variety of imaging processing techniques, the mechanical deformation exhibited by the cardiac tissue during contraction can be imaged using ultrasound and used as an indicator of myocardial health.

This dissertation will demonstrate the clinical implementation of two ultrasound-based strain estimation techniques developed in the Ultrasound and Elasticity Imaging Laboratory at Columbia University. Each of the two imaging methods will be tailored for clinical applications using techniques for optimal strain estimation derived from ultrasound and imaging processing theory. The motion estimation rate (MER) used for strain estimation is examined in the context of the theoretical Strain Filter and used to increase the precision of axial strain estimation. Diverging beam sequences are used to achieve full-view high MER imaging within a single heartbeat. At approximately 500 Hz, the expected elastographic signal-to-noise ratio (E(SNRe|ε)) of the axial strain becomes single-peaked, indicating an absence of “peak-hopping” errors which can severely corrupt strain estimation. In order to mediate the tradeoff in spatial resolution resulting from the use of diverging beams, coherent spatial compounding is used to increase the accuracy of the lateral strain estimation to produce a more physiologic strain profile. A sequence with 5 coherently compounded diverging waves is used at 500 Hz to improve the radial SNRe of the strain estimation compared to the single-source diverging sequence.

The first technique, Myocardial Elastography (ME), is used in conjunction with an intracardiac echocardiography (ICE) system to image the formation of thermal ablation lesions in vivo using a canine model (n=6). By comparing the systolic strain before and after the formation of the lesion, lesion maps are generated which allow for the visualization of the lesion in real-time during the procedure. A good correlation is found between the lesion maps and the actual lesion volume as measured using gross pathology (r2=0.86). The transmurality of the lesions are also shown to be in good agreement with gross pathology. Finally, the feasibility of imaging gaps between neighboring lesions is established. Lesion size and the presence of gaps have been associated with the success rate of cardiac ablation procedures, demonstrating the value of ME as a potentially useful technique for clinicians to help improve patient outcomes following ablation procedures.

The second technique, Electromechanical Wave Imaging (EWI), is used with a transthoracic echocardiography system in a study of heart failure patients (n=16) and healthy subjects (n=4). EWI uses the transient inter-frame strains to generate maps of electromechanical activation, which are then used to distinguish heart failure patients from healthy controls (p<.05).  EWI was also shown to be capable of distinguishing responders from non-responders to cardiac resychronization therapy (CRT) on the basis of the activation time of the lateral wall. A subsequent investigation into different CRT pacing vectors indicates that EWI could be used to help guide clinicians through the multitude of pacing strategies now offered by newer CRT devices.

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