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Electromechanical wave imaging (EWI) has recently been introduced as a noninvasive, ultrasound-based imaging modality, which could map the electrical activation of the heart in various echocardiographic planes in mice, dogs, and humans in vivo. By acquiring radio-frequency (RF) frames at very high frame rates (390-520 Hz), the onset of small, localized, transient deformations resulting from the electrical activation of the heart, i.e., generating the electromechanical wave (EMW), can be mapped. The correlation between the EMW and the electrical activation speed and pacing scheme has previously been reported. In this study, we pursue the development of EWI using both displacements and strains and analysis of the EMW properties in dogs in vivo for early detection of ischemia. EWI was performed in normal and ischemic open-chest dogs during sinus rhythm. Ischemia of increasing severity was obtained by gradually obstructing the left-anterior descending (LAD) coronary artery flow. We also introduce the novel method of motion-matching that achieves the reconstruction of the full EWI cine-loop at very high frame rates even when the ECG may be irregular or unavailable. Incremental displacements were previously used by our group to map the EMW. This paper focuses on the associated incremental strains, which facilitate the interpretation of the EMW by relating it directly to contraction. Moreover, we define the onset of the EMW as the time, at which the incremental strains change sign after the onset of the QRS complex of the ECG. Based on this definition, isochronal representations of the EMW were generated using a semi-automated method. The isochronal representation of the EMW during sinus rhythm was reproducible and shown similar to electrical activation maps previously reported in the literature. After segmentation using a contour-tracking method, the two- and four-chamber views were imaged and displayed in bi-plane views, allowing a 3-D interpretation of th- EMW. EWI was shown to be sensitive to the presence of intermediate ischemia. EWI localized the ischemic region when the LAD flow was obstructed at 60% and beyond and was capable of mapping the increase of the ischemic region size as the LAD occlusion level increased. In conclusion, the activation maps and wave patterns obtained with EWI were similar to the electrical equivalents previously reported in the literature. Moreover, EWI was found to be sensitive enough to detect and map intermediate ischemia. Those results indicate that EWI could be used to assess the conduction properties of the myocardium, and detect its ischemic onset and disease progression entirely noninvasively.
Date of Publication: March 2010