The biophysical basis for electrocardiographic evaluation of myocardial ischemia stems from the notion that ischemic tissues develop, with relative uniformity, along the endocardial aspects of the heart. These injured regions of subendocardial tissue give rise to intramural currents that lead to ST segment deflections within electrocardiogram (ECG) recordings. The concept of subendocardial ischemic regions is often used in clinical practice, providing a simple and intuitive description of ischemic injury; however, such a model grossly oversimplifies the presentation of ischemic disease—inadvertently leading to errors in ECG-based diagnoses. Furthermore, recent experimental studies have brought into question the subendocardial ischemia paradigm suggesting instead a more distributed pattern of tissue injury. These findings come from experiments and so have both the impact and the limitations of measurements from living organisms. Computer models have often been employed to overcome the constraints of experimental approaches and have a robust history in cardiac simulation. To this end, we have developed a computational simulation framework aimed at elucidating the effects of ischemia on measurable cardiac potentials. To validate our framework, we simulated, visualized, and analyzed 226 experimentally derived acute myocardial ischemic events. Simulation outcomes agreed both qualitatively (feature comparison) and quantitatively (correlation, average error, and significance) with experimentally obtained epicardial measurements, particularly under conditions of elevated ischemic stress. Our simulation framework introduces a novel approach to incorporating subject-specific, geometric models and experimental results that are highly resolved in space and time into computational models. We propose this framework as a means to advance the understanding of the underlying mechanisms of ischemic disease while simultaneously putting in place the computational infrastructure necessary to study and improve ischemia models aimed at reducing diagnostic errors in the clinic.
Computational models of myocardial ischemia often use oversimplified ischemic source representations to simulate epicardial potentials. The purpose of this study was to explore the influence of biophysically justified, subject-specific ischemic zone representations on epicardial potentials.
We developed and implemented an image-based simulation pipeline, using intramural recordings from a canine experimental model to define subject-specific ischemic regions within the heart. Static epicardial potential distributions, reflective of ST segment deviations, were simulated and validated against measured epicardial recordings.
Simulated epicardial potential distributions showed strong statistical correlation and visual agreement with measured epicardial potentials. Additionally, we identified and described in what way border zone parameters influence epicardial potential distributions during the ST segment.
From image-based simulations of myocardial ischemia, we generated subject-specific ischemic sources that accurately replicated epicardial potential distributions. Such models are essential in understanding the underlying mechanisms of the bioelectric fields that arise during ischemia and are the basis for more sophisticated simulations of body surface ECGs.
Background: Noninvasive localization of premature ventricular complexes (PVCs) to guide ablation therapy is one of the emerging applications of electrocardiographic imaging (ECGI). Because of its increasing clinical use, it is essential to compare the many implementations of ECGI that exist to understand the specific characteristics of each approach.
Objective: Our consortium is a community of researchers aiming to collaborate in the field of ECGI, and to objectively compare and improve methods. Here, we will compare methods to localize the origin of PVCs with ECGI.
Methods: Our consortium hosts a repository of ECGI data on its website. For the current study, participants analysed simulated electrocardiograms from premature beats, freely available on that website. These PVCs were simulated to originate from eight ventricular locations and the resulting body-surface potentials were computed. These body-surface electrocardiograms (and the torso-heart geometry) were then provided to the study participants to apply their ECGI algorithms to determine the origin of the PVCs. Participants could choose freely among four different source models, i.e., representations of the bioelectric fields reconstructed from ECGI: 1) epicardial potentials (POTepi), 2) epicardial & endocardial potentials (POTepi&endo), 3) transmembrane potentials on the endocardium and epicardium (TMPepi&endo) and 4) transmembrame potentials throughout the myocardium (TMPmyo). Participants were free to employ any software implementation of ECGI and were blinded to the ground truth data.
Results: Four research groups submitted 11 entries for this study. The figure shows the localization error between the known and reconstructed origin of each PVC for each submission, categorized per source model. Each colour represents one research group and some groups submitted results using different approaches. These results demonstrate that the variation of accuracy was larger among research groups than among the source models. Most submissions achieved an error below 2 cm, but none performed with a consistent sub-centimetre accuracy.
Conclusion: This study demonstrates a successful community-based approach to study different ECGI methods for PVC localization. The goal was not to rank research groups but to compare both source models and numerical implementations. PVC localization with these methods was not as dependent on the source representation as it was on the implementation of ECGI. Consequently, ECGI validation should not be performed on generic methods, but should be specifically performed for each lab's implementation. The novelty of this study is that it achieves this in the first open, international comparison of approaches using a common set of gold standards. Continued collaborative validation is essential to understand the effect of implementation differences, in order to reach significant improvements and arrive at clinically-relevant sub-centimetre accuracy of PVC localization.
A. Rodenhauser, W.W. Good, B. Zenger, J. Tate, K. Aras, B. Burton, R.S. Macleod.
PFEIFER: Preprocessing Framework for Electrograms Intermittently Fiducialized from Experimental Recordings, In The Journal of Open Source Software, Vol. 3, No. 21, The Open Journal, pp. 472. Jan, 2018.
Preprocessing Framework for Electrograms Intermittently Fiducialized from Experimental Recordings (PFEIFER) is a MATLAB Graphical User Interface designed to process bioelectric signals acquired from experiments.
PFEIFER was specifically designed to process electrocardiographic recordings from electrodes placed on or around the heart or on the body surface. Specific steps included in PFEIFER allow the user to remove some forms of noise, correct for signal drift, and mark specific instants or intervals in time (fiducialize) within all of the time sampled channels. PFEIFER includes many unique features that allow the user to process electrical signals in a consistent and time efficient manner, with additional options for advanced user configurations and input. PFEIFER is structured as a consolidated framework that provides many standard processing pipelines but also has flexibility to allow the user to customize many of the steps. PFEIFER allows the user to import time aligned cardiac electrical signals, semi-automatically determine fiducial markings from those signals, and perform computational tasks that prepare the signals for subsequent display and analysis.
S. Thomas, J. Silvernagel, N. Angel, E. Kholmovski, E. Ghafoori, N. Hu, J. Ashton, D.J. Dosdall, R.S. MacLeod, R. Ranjan.
Higher contact force during radiofrequency ablation leads to a much larger increase in edema as compared to chronic lesion size, In Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology, Wiley, June, 2018.
Reversible edema is a part of any radiofrequency ablation but its relationship with contact force is unknown. The goal of this study was to characterize through histology and MRI, acute and chronic ablation lesions and reversible edema with contact force.
2 Methods and results
In a canine model (n = 14), chronic ventricular lesions were created with a 3.5‐mm tip ThermoCool SmartTouch (Biosense Webster) catheter at 25 W or 40 W for 30 seconds. Repeat ablation was performed after 3 months to create a second set of lesions (acute). Each ablation procedure was followed by in vivo T2‐weighted MRI for edema and late‐gadolinium enhancement (LGE) MRI for lesion characterization. For chronic lesions, the mean scar volumes at 25 W and 40 W were 77.8 ± 34.5 mm3 (n = 24) and 139.1 ± 69.7 mm3 (n = 12), respectively. The volume of chronic lesions increased (25 W: P < 0.001, 40 W: P < 0.001) with greater contact force. For acute lesions, the mean volumes of the lesion were 286.0 ± 129.8 mm3 (n = 19) and 422.1 ± 113.1 mm3 (n = 16) for 25 W and 40 W, respectively (P < 0.001 compared to chronic scar). On T2‐weighted MRI, the acute edema volume was on average 5.6–8.7 times higher than the acute lesion volume and increased with contact force (25 W: P = 0.001, 40 W: P = 0.011).
With increasing contact force, there is a marginal increase in lesion size but accompanied with a significantly larger edema. The reversible edema that is much larger than the chronic lesion volume may explain some of the chronic procedure failures.
S. Ghimire, J. Dhamala, J. Coll-Font, J. D. Tate, M. S. Guillem, D. H. Brooks, R. S. MacLeod, L. Wang. Overcoming Barriers to Quantification and Comparison of Electrocardiographic Imaging Methods: A Community-Based Approach, In Computing in Cardiology, Vol. 44, 2017.
There has been a recent upsurge in the development of electrocardiographic imaging (ECGI) methods, along with a significant increase in clinical application. To better assess the state-of-the-art, enable reliable progress, and facilitate clinical adoption, it is important to be able to compare results in a comprehensive manner, scientifically and clinically. However, studies vary in modeling choices, computational methods, validation mechanisms and metrics, and clinical applications, making unified evaluation and comparison of ECGI a critical challenge.
This paper describes initial results of a project to address this challenge via a community-based approach organized by the Consortium for Electrocardiographic Imaging (CEI). We detail different aspects of this collective effort including a data sharing repository, a platform for comparison of different algorithms and modeling approaches on the same datasets, several active workgroups and progress made along these directions. We also summarize the results from groups participating in this collaboration and contributing solutions by applying their methods to the same dataset for comparison.
W. W. Good, B. Erem, J. Coll-Font, D. H. Brooks, R. S. MacLeod. Detecting Ischemic Stress to the Myocardium Using Laplacian Eigenmaps and Changes to Conduction Velocity, In Computing in Cardiology, Vol. 44, IEEE, 2017.
The underlying pathophysiology of ischemia and its electrocardiographic consequences are poorly understood, resulting in unreliable diagnosis of this disease. This limited knowledge of underlying mechanisms suggests a data driven approach, which seeks to identify patterns in the ECG that can be linked statistically to underlying behavior and conditions of ischemic stress. The gold standard ECG metrics for evaluating ischemia monitor vertical deflections within the ST segment. However, ischemia influences all portions of the electrogram. Another metric that targets the QRS complex during ischemia is Conduction Velocity (CV). An even more inclusive, data driven approach is known as "Laplacian Eigenmaps" (LE), which can identify trajectories, or "manifolds", that respond to different spatiotemporal consequences of ischemic stress, and these changes to the trajectories on the manifold may serve as a clinically relevant biomarker. On this study, we compared the LE- and CV-based markers against two gold standards for detecting ischemic stress, both derived from the ST segment. We evaluated the response time and fidelity of each biomarker using a Time to Threshold (TTT) and Contrast Ratio (CR) measure, over 51 episodes recorded as cardiac electrograms from a canine model of controlled ischemia. The results show that metrics designed to monitor regions beyond the ST segment can perform at least as well, if not better, than traditional ST segment based metrics.
K. Aras B. Burton, D. Swenson, R.S. MacLeod. Spatial organization of acute myocardial ischemia, In Journal of Electrocardiology, Vol. 49, No. 3, Elsevier, pp. 323–336. May, 2016.
Myocardial ischemia is a pathological condition initiated by supply and demand imbalance of the blood to the heart. Previous studies suggest that ischemia originates in the subendocardium, i.e., that nontransmural ischemia is limited to the subendocardium. By contrast, we hypothesized that acute myocardial ischemia is not limited to the subendocardium and sought to document its spatial distribution in an animal preparation. The goal of these experiments was to investigate the spatial organization of ischemia and its relationship to the resulting shifts in ST segment potentials during short episodes of acute ischemia.
We conducted acute ischemia studies in open-chest canines (N = 19) and swines (N = 10), which entailed creating carefully controlled ischemia using demand, supply or complete occlusion ischemia protocols and recording intramyocardial and epicardial potentials. Elevation of the potentials at 40% of the ST segment between the J-point and the peak of the T-wave (ST40%) provided the metric for local ischemia. The threshold for ischemic ST segment elevations was defined as two standard deviations away from the baseline values.
The relative frequency of occurrence of acute ischemia was higher in the subendocardium (78% for canines and 94% for swines) and the mid-wall (87% for canines and 97% for swines) in comparison with the subepicardium (30% for canines and 22% for swines). In addition, acute ischemia was seen arising throughout the myocardium (distributed pattern) in 87% of the canine and 94% of the swine episodes. Alternately, acute ischemia was seen originating only in the subendocardium (subendocardial pattern) in 13% of the canine episodes and 6% of the swine episodes (p < 0.05).
Our findings suggest that the spatial distribution of acute ischemia is a complex phenomenon arising throughout the myocardial wall and is not limited to the subendocardium.
This paper addresses the challenge of extracting meaningful information from measured bioelectric signals generated by complex, large scale physiological systems such as the brain or the heart. We focus on a combination of the well-known Laplacian eigenmaps machine learning approach with dynamical systems ideas to analyze emergent dynamic behaviors. The method reconstructs the abstract dynamical system phase-space geometry of the embedded measurements and tracks changes in physiological conditions or activities through changes in that geometry. It is geared to extract information from the joint behavior of time traces obtained from large sensor arrays, such as those used in multiple-electrode ECG and EEG, and explore the geometrical structure of the low dimensional embedding of moving time windows of those joint snapshots. Our main contribution is a method for mapping vectors from the phase space to the data domain. We present cases to evaluate the methods, including a synthetic example using the chaotic Lorenz system, several sets of cardiac measurements from both canine and human hearts, and measurements from a human brain.
Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) aims to alter brain function non-invasively via electrodes placed on the scalp. Conventional tDCS uses two relatively large patch electrodes to deliver electrical current to the brain region of interest (ROI). Recent studies have shown that using dense arrays containing up to 512 smaller electrodes may increase the precision of targeting ROIs. However, this creates a need for methods to determine effective and safe stimulus patterns as the number of degrees of freedom is much higher with such arrays. Several approaches to this problem have appeared in the literature. In this paper, we describe a new method for calculating optimal electrode stimulus patterns for targeted and directional modulation in dense array tDCS which differs in some important aspects with methods reported to date.
We optimize stimulus pattern of dense arrays with fixed electrode placement to maximize the current density in a particular direction in the ROI. We impose a flexible set of safety constraints on the current power in the brain, individual electrode currents, and total injected current, to protect subject safety. The proposed optimization problem is convex and thus efficiently solved using existing optimization software to find unique and globally optimal electrode stimulus patterns.
Solutions for four anatomical ROIs based on a realistic head model are shown as exemplary results. To illustrate the differences between our approach and previously introduced methods, we compare our method with two of the other leading methods in the literature. We also report on extensive simulations that show the effect of the values chosen for each proposed safety constraint bound on the optimized stimulus patterns.
The proposed optimization approach employs volume based ROIs, easily adapts to different sets of safety constraints, and takes negligible time to compute. An in-depth comparison study gives insight into the relationship between different objective criteria and optimized stimulus patterns. In addition, the analysis of the interaction between optimized stimulus patterns and safety constraint bounds suggests that more precise current localization in the ROI, with improved safety criterion, may be achieved by careful selection of the constraint bounds.
I.A. Polejaeva, R. Ranjan, C.J. Davies, M. Regouski, J. Hall, A.L. Olsen, Q. Meng, H.M. Rutigliano, D.J. Dosdall, N.A. Angel, F.B. Sachse, T. Seidel, A.J. Thomas, R. Stott, K.E. Panter, P.M. Lee, A.J. Van Wettere, J.R. Stevens, Z. Wang, R.S. Macleod, N.F. Marrouche, K.L. White.
Increased Susceptibility to Atrial Fibrillation Secondary to Atrial Fibrosis in Transgenic Goats Expressing Transforming Growth Factor-β1, In Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology, Vol. 27, No. 10, Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 1220--1229. Aug, 2016.
Large animal models of progressive atrial fibrosis would provide an attractive platform to study relationship between structural and electrical remodeling in atrial fibrillation (AF). Here we established a new transgenic goat model of AF with cardiac specific overexpression of TGF-β1 and investigated the changes in the cardiac structure and function leading to AF.
Methods and Results
Transgenic goats with cardiac specific overexpression of constitutively active TGF-β1 were generated by somatic cell nuclear transfer. We examined myocardial tissue, ECGs, echocardiographic data, and AF susceptibility in transgenic and wild-type control goats. Transgenic goats exhibited significant increase in fibrosis and myocyte diameters in the atria compared to controls, but not in the ventricles. P-wave duration was significantly greater in transgenic animals starting at 12 months of age, but no significant chamber enlargement was detected, suggesting conduction slowing in the atria. Furthermore, this transgenic goat model exhibited a significant increase in AF vulnerability. Six of 8 transgenic goats (75%) were susceptible to AF induction and exhibited sustained AF (>2 minutes), whereas none of 6 controls displayed sustained AF (P < 0.01). Length of induced AF episodes was also significantly greater in the transgenic group compared to controls (687 ± 212.02 seconds vs. 2.50 ± 0.88 seconds, P < 0.0001), but no persistent or permanent AF was observed.
A novel transgenic goat model with a substrate for AF was generated. In this model, cardiac overexpression of TGF-β1 led to an increase in fibrosis and myocyte size in the atria, and to progressive P-wave prolongation. We suggest that these factors underlie increased AF susceptibility.
K.K. Aras, W. Good, J. Tate, B.M. Burton, D.H. Brooks, J. Coll-Font, O. Doessel, W. Schulze, D. Patyogaylo, L. Wang, P. Van Dam,, R.S. MacLeod. Experimental Data and Geometric Analysis Repository: EDGAR, In Journal of Electrocardiology, 2015.
The "Experimental Data and Geometric Analysis Repository", or EDGAR is an Internet-based archive of curated data that are freely distributed to the international research community for the application and validation of electrocardiographic imaging (ECGI) techniques. The EDGAR project is a collaborative effort by the Consortium for ECG Imaging (CEI, ecg-imaging.org), and focused on two specific aims. One aim is to host an online repository that provides access to a wide spectrum of data, and the second aim is to provide a standard information format for the exchange of these diverse datasets.
The EDGAR system is composed of two interrelated components: 1) a metadata model, which includes a set of descriptive parameters and information, time signals from both the cardiac source and body-surface, and extensive geometric information, including images, geometric models, and measure locations used during the data acquisition/generation; and 2) a web interface. This web interface provides efficient, search, browsing, and retrieval of data from the repository.
An aggregation of experimental, clinical and simulation data from various centers is being made available through the EDGAR project including experimental data from animal studies provided by the University of Utah (USA), clinical data from multiple human subjects provided by the Charles University Hospital (Czech Republic), and computer simulation data provided by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (Germany).
It is our hope that EDGAR will serve as a communal forum for sharing and distribution of cardiac electrophysiology data and geometric models for use in ECGI research.
Y. Gao, L. Zhu, J. Cates, R. S. MacLeod, S. Bouix,, A. Tannenbaum.
A Kalman Filtering Perspective for Multiatlas Segmentation, In SIAM J. Imaging Sciences, Vol. 8, No. 2, pp. 1007-1029. 2015.
K. Gillette, J.D. Tate, B. Kindall, P. Van Dam, E. Kholmovski, R.S. MacLeod. Generation of Combined-Modality Tetrahedral Meshes, In Computing in Cardiology, 2015.
Registering and combining anatomical components from different image modalities, like MRI and CT that have different tissue contrast, could result in patient-specific models that more closely represent underlying anatomical structures.
In this study, we combined a pair of CT and MRI scans of a pig thorax to make a tetrahedral mesh and compared different registration techniques including rigid, affine, thin plate spline morphing (TPSM), and iterative closest point (ICP), to superimpose the segmented bones from the CT scan on the soft tissues segmented from the MRI. The TPSM and affine-registered bones remained close to, but not overlapping, important soft tissue.
Simulation models, including an ECG forward model and a defibrillation model, were computed on generated multi-modality meshes after TPSM and affine registration and compared to those based on the original torso mesh.
Poor scar formation after ablation is associated with atrial fibrillation recurrence, In Journal of Interventional Cardiac Electrophysiology, Vol. 44, No. 3, pp. 247-256. December, 2015.B.R. Parmar, T.R. Jarrett, E.G. Kholmovski, N. Hu, D. Parker, R.S. MacLeod, N.F. Marrouche, R. Ranjan.
Patients routinely undergo ablation for atrial fibrillation (AF) but the recurrence rate remains high. We explored in this study whether poor scar formation as seen on late-gadolinium enhancement magnetic resonance imaging (LGE-MRI) correlates with AF recurrence following ablation.
We retrospectively identified 94 consecutive patients who underwent their initial ablation for AF at our institution and had pre-procedural magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) merged with left atrial (LA) anatomy in an electroanatomic mapping (EAM) system, ablated areas marked intraprocedurally in EAM, 3-month post-ablation LGE-MRI for assessment of scar, and minimum of 3-months of clinical follow-up. Ablated area was quantified retrospectively in EAM and scarred area was quantified in the 3-month post-ablation LGE-MRI.
With the mean follow-up of 336 days, 26 out of 94 patients had AF recurrence. Age, hypertension, and heart failure were not associated with AF recurrence, but LA size and difference between EAM ablated area and LGE-MRI scar area was associated with higher AF recurrence. For each percent higher difference between EAM ablated area and LGE-MRI scar area, there was a 7–9 % higher AF recurrence (p values 0.001–0.003) depending on the multivariate analysis.
In AF ablation, poor scar formation as seen on LGE-MRI was associated with AF recurrence. Improved mapping and ablation techniques are necessary to achieve the desired LA scar and reduce AF recurrence.
J.J.E. Blauer, D. Swenson, K. Higuchi, G. Plank, R. Ranjan, N. Marrouche,, R.S. MacLeod. Sensitivity and Specificity of Substrate Mapping: An In Silico Framework for the Evaluation of Electroanatomical Substrate Mapping Strategies, In Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology, In Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology, Vol. 25, No. 7, Note: Featured on journal cover., pp. 774--780. May, 2014.
Keywords: arrhythmia, computer-based model, electroanatomical mapping, voltage mapping, bipolar electrogram
Although catheter ablation therapy for atrial fibrillation (AF) is becoming more common, results vary widely, and patient selection criteria remain poorly defined. We hypothesized that late gadolinium enhancement MRI (LGE-MRI) can identify left atrial (LA) wall structural remodeling (SRM) and stratify patients who are likely or not to benefit from ablation therapy.
A widely used approach to solving the inverse problem in electrocardiography involves computing potentials on the epicardium from measured electrocardiograms (ECGs) on the torso surface. The main challenge of solving this electrocardiographic imaging (ECGI) problem lies in its intrinsic ill-posedness. While many regularization techniques have been developed to control wild oscillations of the solution, the choice of proper regularization methods for obtaining clinically acceptable solutions is still a subject of ongoing research. However there has been little rigorous comparison across methods proposed by different groups. This study systematically compared various regularization techniques for solving the ECGI problem under a unified simulation framework, consisting of both 1) progressively more complex idealized source models (from single dipole to triplet of dipoles), and 2) an electrolytic human torso tank containing a live canine heart, with the cardiac source being modeled by potentials measured on a cylindrical cage placed around the heart. We tested 13 different regularization techniques to solve the inverse problem of recovering epicardial potentials, and found that non-quadratic methods (total variation algorithms) and first-order and second-order Tikhonov regularizations outperformed other methodologies and resulted in similar average reconstruction errors.
B.R. Parmar, T.R. Jarrett, N.S. Burgon, E.G. Kholmovski, N.W. Akoum, N. Hu, R.S. Macleod, N.F. Marrouche, R. Ranjan.
Comparison of Left Atrial Area Marked Ablated in Electroanatomical Maps with Scar in MRI, In Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology, 2014.
Three-dimensional electroanatomic mapping (EAM) is routinely used to mark ablated areas during radiofrequency ablation. We hypothesized that, in atrial fibrillation (AF) ablation, EAM overestimates scar formation in the left atrium (LA) when compared to the scar seen on late-gadolinium enhancement magnetic resonance imaging (LGE-MRI).
Methods and Results
Of the 235 patients who underwent initial ablation for AF at our institution between August 2011 and December 2012, we retrospectively identified 70 patients who had preprocedural magnetic resonance angiography merged with LA anatomy in EAM software and had a 3-month postablation LGE-MRI for assessment of scar. Ablated area was marked intraprocedurally using EAM software and quantified retrospectively. Scarred area was quantified in 3-month postablation LGE-MRI. The mean ablated area in EAM was 30.5 ± 7.5% of the LA endocardial surface and the mean scarred area in LGE-MRI was 13.9 ± 5.9% (P < 0.001). This significant difference in the ablated area marked in the EAM and scar area in the LGE-MRI was present for each of the 3 independent operators. Complete pulmonary vein (PV) encirclement representing electrical isolation was observed in 87.8% of the PVs in EAM as compared to only 37.4% in LGE-MRI (P < 0.001).
In AF ablation, EAM significantly overestimates the resultant scar as assessed with a follow-up LGE-MRI.
Keywords: atrial fibrillation, magnetic resonance imaging, radiofrequency ablation