Cardiac biplane strain imaging: initial in vivo experience

R. G. P. Lopata, M. M. Nillesen, C. N. Verrijp, S. K. Singh, M.M.Y. Lammens, J.A.W.M. van der Laak, H. B. van Wetten, J. M. Thijssen, L. Kapusta and C. L. de Korte

Physics in Medicine and Biology 2010;55:963-979

DOI PMID

Abstract

In this study, first we propose a biplane strain imaging method using a commercial ultrasound system, yielding estimation of the strain in three orthogonal directions. Secondly, an animal model of a child's heart was introduced that is suitable to simulate congenital heart disease and was used to test the method in vivo. The proposed approach can serve as a framework to monitor the development of cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis. A 2D strain estimation technique using radio frequency (RF) ultrasound data was applied. Biplane image acquisition was performed at a relatively low frame rate (<100 Hz) using a commercial platform with an RF interface. For testing the method in vivo, biplane image sequences of the heart were recorded during the cardiac cycle in four dogs with an aortic stenosis. Initial results reveal the feasibility of measuring large radial, circumferential and longitudinal cumulative strain (up to 70\%) at a frame rate of 100 Hz. Mean radial strain curves of a manually segmented region-of-interest in the infero-lateral wall show excellent correlation between the measured strain curves acquired in two perpendicular planes. Furthermore, the results show the feasibility and reproducibility of assessing radial, circumferential and longitudinal strains simultaneously. In this preliminary study, three beagles developed an elevated pressure gradient over the aortic valve (Deltap: 100-200 mmHg) and myocardial hypertrophy. One dog did not develop any sign of hypertrophy (Deltap = 20 mmHg). Initial strain (rate) results showed that the maximum strain (rate) decreased with increasing valvular stenosis (-50\%), which is in accordance with previous studies. Histological findings corroborated these results and showed an increase in fibrotic tissue for the hearts with larger pressure gradients (100, 200 mmHg), as well as lower strain and strain rate values.