Skip to Main Content
Excitable media theory predicts the effect of electrical wavefront morphology on the dynamics of propagation in cardiac tissue. It specifies that a convex wavefront propagates slower and a concave wavefront propagates faster than a planar wavefront. Because of this, wavefront curvature is thought to be an important functional mechanism of cardiac arrhythmias. However, the curvature of wavefronts during an arrhythmia are generally unknown. We introduce a robust, automated method to measure the curvature vector field of discretely characterized, arbitrarily shaped, two-dimensional (2-D) wavefronts. The method relies on generating a smooth, continuous parameterization of the shape of a wave using cubic smoothing splines fitted to an isopotential at a specified level, which we choose to be -30 mV. Twice differentiating the parametric form provides local curvature vectors along the wavefront and waveback. Local conduction velocities are computed as the wave speed along lines normal to the parametric form. In this way, the curvature and velocity vector field for wavefronts and wavebacks can be measured. We applied the method to data sampled from a 2-D numerical model and several examples are provided to illustrate its usefulness for studying the dynamics of cardiac propagation in 2-D media.