Aims Chronic left atrial enlargement (LAE) increases the risk of atrial fibrillation. Electrocardiogram (ECG) criteria might provide a means to diagnose LAE and identify patients at risk; however, current criteria perform poorly. We seek to characterize the potentially differential effects of atrial dilation vs. hypertrophy on the ECG P-wave. Methods and results We predict effects on the P-wave of (i) left atrial dilation (LAD), i.e. an increase of LA cavity volume without an increase in myocardial volume, (ii) left atrial concentric hypertrophy (LACH), i.e. a thickened myocardial wall, and (iii) a combination of the two. We performed a computational study in a cohort of 72 anatomical variants, derived from four human atrial anatomies. To model LAD, pressure was applied to the LA endocardium increasing cavity volume by up to 100%. For LACH, the LA wall was thickened by up to 3.3 mm. P-waves were derived by simulating atrial excitation propagation and computing the body surface ECG. The sensitivity regarding changes beyond purely anatomical effects was analysed by altering conduction velocity by 25% in 96 additional model variants. Left atrial dilation prolonged P-wave duration (PWd) in two of four subjects; in one subject a shortening, and in the other a variable change were seen. Left atrial concentric hypertrophy, in contrast, consistently increased P-wave terminal force in lead V1 (PTF-V1) in all subjects through an enlarged amplitude while PWd was unaffected. Combined hypertrophy and dilation generally enhanced the effect of hypertrophy on PTF-V1. Conclusion Isolated LAD has moderate effects on the currently used P-wave criteria, explaining the limited utility of PWd and PTF-V1 in detecting LAE in clinical practice. In contrast, PTF-V1 may be a more sensitive indicator of LA myocardial hypertrophy.
Electrocardiographic imaging (ECGI) reconstructs the electrical activity of the heart from a dense array of body-surface electrocardiograms and a patient-specific heart-torso geometry. Depending on how it is formulated, ECGI allows the reconstruction of the activation and recovery sequence of the heart, the origin of premature beats or tachycardia, the anchors/hotspots of re-entrant arrhythmias and other electrophysiological quantities of interest. Importantly, these quantities are directly and noninvasively reconstructed in a digitized model of the patient’s three-dimensional heart, which has led to clinical interest in ECGI’s ability to personalize diagnosis and guide therapy. Despite considerable development over the last decades, validation of ECGI is challenging. Firstly, results depend considerably on implementation choices, which are necessary to deal with ECGI’s ill-posed character. Secondly, it is challenging to obtain (invasive) ground truth data of high quality. In this review, we discuss the current status of ECGI validation as well as the major challenges remaining for complete adoption of ECGI in clinical practice. Specifically, showing clinical benefit is essential for the adoption of ECGI. Such benefit may lie in patient outcome improvement, workflow improvement, or cost reduction. Future studies should focus on these aspects to achieve broad adoption of ECGI, but only after the technical challenges have been solved for that specific application/pathology. We propose ‘best’ practices for technical validation and highlight collaborative efforts recently organized in this field. Continued interaction between engineers, basic scientists and physicians remains essential to find a hybrid between technical achievements, pathological mechanisms insights, and clinical benefit, to evolve this powerful technique towards a useful role in clinical practice.
S. Schuler, A. Wachter, and O. Dössel. Electrocardiographic Imaging Using a Spatio-Temporal Basis of Body Surface Potentials—Application to Atrial Ectopic Activity. In Frontiers in Physiology, vol. 9:1126, 2018
Electrocardiographic imaging (ECGI) strongly relies on a priori assumptions and additional information to overcome ill-posedness. The major challenge of obtaining good reconstructions consists in finding ways to add information that effectively restricts the solution space without violating properties of the sought solution. In this work, we attempt to address this problem by constructing a spatio-temporal basis of body surface potentials (BSP) from simulations of many focal excitations. Measured BSPs are projected onto this basis and reconstructions are expressed as linear combinations of corresponding transmembrane voltage (TMV) basis vectors. The novel method was applied to simulations of 100 atrial ectopic foci with three different conduction velocities. Three signal-to-noise ratios (SNR) and bases of six different temporal lengths were considered. Reconstruction quality was evaluated using the spatial correlation coefficient of TMVs as well as estimated local activation times (LAT). The focus localization error was assessed by computing the geodesic distance between true and reconstructed foci. Compared with an optimally parameterized Tikhonov-Greensite method, the BSP basis reconstruction increased the mean TMV correlation by up to 22, 24, and 32% for an SNR of 40, 20, and 0 dB, respectively. Mean LAT correlation could be improved by up to 5, 7, and 19% for the three SNRs. For 0 dB, the average localization error could be halved from 15.8 to 7.9 mm. For the largest basis length, the localization error was always below 34 mm. In conclusion, the new method improved reconstructions of atrial ectopic activity especially for low SNRs. Localization of ectopic foci turned out to be more robust and more accurate. Preliminary experiments indicate that the basis generalizes to some extent from the training data and may even be applied for reconstruction of non-ectopic activity.
Optical mapping is widely used as a tool to investigate cardiac electrophysiology in ex vivo preparations. Digital filtering of fluorescence-optical data is an important requirement for robust subsequent data analysis and still a challenge when processing data acquired from thin mammalian myocardium. Therefore, we propose and investigate the use of an adaptive spatio-temporal Gaussian filter for processing optical mapping signals from these kinds of tissue usually having low signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). We demonstrate how filtering parameters can be chosen automatically without additional user input. For systematic comparison of this filter with standard filtering methods from the literature, we generated synthetic signals representing optical recordings from atrial myocardium of a rat heart with varying SNR. Furthermore, all filter methods were applied to experimental data from an ex vivo setup. Our developed filter outperformed the other filter methods regarding local activation time detection at SNRs smaller than 3 dB which are typical noise ratios expected in these signals. At higher SNRs, the proposed filter performed slightly worse than the methods from literature. In conclusion, the proposed adaptive spatio-temporal Gaussian filter is an appropriate tool for investigating fluorescence-optical data with low SNR. The spatio-temporal filter parameters were automatically adapted in contrast to the other investigated filters.
A. M. Janssen, D. Potyagaylo, O. Dössel, and T. F. Oostendorp. Assessment of the equivalent dipole layer source model in the reconstruction of cardiac activation times on the basis of BSPMs produced by an anisotropic model of the heart.. In Medical & biological engineering & computing, vol. 56(6) , pp. 1013-1025, 2018
Promising results have been reported in noninvasive estimation of cardiac activation times (AT) using the equivalent dipole layer (EDL) source model in combination with the boundary element method (BEM). However, the assumption of equal anisotropy ratios in the heart that underlies the EDL model does not reflect reality. In the present study, we quantify the errors of the nonlinear AT imaging based on the EDL approximation. Nine different excitation patterns (sinus rhythm and eight ectopic beats) were simulated with the monodomain model. Based on the bidomain theory, the body surface potential maps (BSPMs) were calculated for a realistic finite element volume conductor with an anisotropic heart model. For the forward calculations, three cases of bidomain conductivity tensors in the heart were considered: isotropic, equal, and unequal anisotropy ratios in the intra- and extracellular spaces. In all inverse reconstructions, the EDL model with BEM was employed: AT were estimated by solving the nonlinear optimization problem with the initial guess provided by the fastest route algorithm. Expectedly, the case of unequal anisotropy ratios resulted in larger localization errors for almost all considered activation patterns. For the sinus rhythm, all sites of early activation were correctly estimated with an optimal regularization parameter being used. For the ectopic beats, all but one foci were correctly classified to have either endo- or epicardial origin with an average localization error of 20.4 mm for unequal anisotropy ratio. The obtained results confirm validation studies and suggest that cardiac anisotropy might be neglected in clinical applications of the considered EDL-based inverse procedure.
OBJECTIVE: Atrial tachycardia (AT) still pose a major challenge in catheter ablation. Although state-of-the-art electroanatomical mapping systems allow to acquire several thousand intracardiac electrograms (EGMs), algorithms for diagnostic analysis are mainly limited to the amplitude of the signal (voltage map) and the local activation time~(LAT map). We applied spatio-temporal analysis of EGM activity to generate maps indicating reentries and diastolic potentials, thus identifying and localizing the driving mechanism of AT. METHODS: First, the time course of active surface area (ASA) is determined during one basic cycle length (BCL). The global cycle length coverage (gCLC) reflects the relative duration within one BCL for which activity was present in each individual atrium. A local cycle length coverage (lCLC) is computed for circular sub-areas with 20mm diameter. The simultaneous active surface area sASA is determined to indicate the spatial extent of depolarizing tissue. RESULTS: Combined analysis of these spatial scales allowed to correctly identify and localize the driving mechanism: gCLC values of 100% were indicative for atria harbouring a reentrant driver. lCLC could detect micro reentries within an area of 1.651.28cm in simulated data and differentiate them against focal sources. Mid-diastolic potentials, being potential targets for catheter ablation, were identified as the areas showing confined activity based on sASA values. CONCLUSION: The concept of spatio-temporal activity analysis proved successful and correctly indicated the tachycardia mechanism in 20 simulated AT scenarios and three clinical data sets. SIGNIFICANCE: Automatic interpretation of intracardiac mapping data could help to improve the treatment strategy in complex cases of AT.
Catheter ablation is a curative therapeutic approach for atrial fibrillation (AF). Ablation of rotational sources based on basket catheter measurements has been proposed as a promising approach in patients with persistent AF to complement pulmonary vein isolation. However, clinically reported success rates are equivocal calling for a mechanistic investigation under controlled conditions. We present a computational framework to benchmark ablation strategies considering the whole cycle from excitation propagation to electrogram acquisition and processing to virtual therapy. Fibrillation was induced in a patient-specific 3D volumetric model of the left atrium, which was homogeneously remodelled to sustain reentry. The resulting extracellular potential field was sampled using models of grid catheters as well as realistically deformed basket catheters considering the specific atrial anatomy. Virtual electrograms were processed to compute phase singularity density maps to target rotor tips with up to three circular ablations. Stable rotors were successfully induced in different regions of the homogeneously remodelled atrium showing that rotors are not constrained to unique anatomical structures or locations. Phase singularity density maps correctly identified and located the rotors (deviation < 10 mm) based on catheter recordings only for sufficient resolution (inter-electrode distance = 3 mm) and proximity to the wall (< 10 mm). Targeting rotor sites with ablation did not stop reentries in the homogeneously remodelled atria independent from lesion size (1-7 mm radius), from linearly connecting lesions with anatomical obstacles, and from the number of rotors targeted sequentially (up to 3). Our results show that phase maps derived from intracardiac electrograms can be a powerful tool to map atrial activation patterns, yet they can also be misleading due to inaccurate localization of rotor tips depending on electrode resolution and distance to the wall. This should be considered to avoid ablating regions that are in fact free of rotor sources of AF. In our experience, ablation of rotor sites was not successful to stop fibrillation. Our comprehensive simulation framework provides the means to holistically benchmark ablation strategies in silico under consideration of all steps invol
Objectives: This study hypothesized that P-wave morphology and timing under left atrial appendage (LAA) pacing change characteristically immediately upon anterior mitral line (AML) block. Background: Perimitral flutter commonly occurs following ablation of atrial fibrillation and can be cured by an AML. However, confirmation of bidirectional block can be challenging, especially in severely fibrotic atria. Methods: The study analyzed 129 consecutive patients (66 ± 8 years, 64% men) who developed perimitral flutter after atrial fibrillation ablation. We designed electrocardiography criteria in a retrospective cohort (n = 76) and analyzed them in a validation cohort (n = 53). Results: Bidirectional AML block was achieved in 110 (85%) patients. For ablation performed during LAA pacing without flutter (n = 52), we found a characteristic immediate V1 jump (increase in LAA stimulus to P-wave peak interval in lead V1) as a real-time marker of AML block (V1 jump ≥30 ms: sensitivity 95%, specificity 100%, positive predictive value 100%, negative predictive value 88%). As V1 jump is not applicable when block coincides with termination of flutter, absolute V1 delay was used as a criterion applicable in all cases (n = 129) with a delay of 203 ms indicating successful block (sensitivity 92%, specificity 84%, positive predictive value 90%, negative predictive value 87%). Furthermore, an initial negative P-wave portion in the inferior leads was observed, which was attenuated in case of additional cavotricuspid isthmus ablation. Computational P-wave simulations provide mechanistic confirmation of these findings for diverse ablation scenarios (pulmonary vein isolation ± AML ± roof line ± cavotricuspid isthmus ablation). Conclusions: V1 jump and V1 delay are novel real-time electrocardiography criteria allowing fast and straightforward assessment of AML block during ablation for perimitral flutter.
Background: During atrial fibrillation, heterogeneities and anisotropies result in a chaotic propagation of the depolarization wavefront. The electrophysiological parameter called conduction velocity (CV) influences the propagation pattern over the atrium. We present a method that determines the regional CV for deformed catheter shapes, which result due to the catheter movement and changing wall contact.Methods: The algorithm selects stable catheter positions, finds the local activation times (LAT), considers the wall contact and calculates all CV estimates within the area covered by the catheter. The method is evaluated with simulated data and then applied to four clinical data sets. Both sinus rhythm activity as well as depolarization wavefronts initiated by stimulation are analyzed. The regional CV is compared with the fractionation duration (FD) and peak-to-peak (P2P) voltages. A speed of 0.5 m/s was defined to create the simulated LAT.Results: After analyzing the simulated LAT with clinical catheter spatial coordinates, the median CV of 0.5 m/s with an interquartile range of 0.22 and exact CV direction vectors were obtained. For clinical cases, the CV magnitude range of 0.08 m/s to 1.0 m/s was obtained. The P2P amplitude of 0.7 mV to 3.7 mV and the mean FD from 40.79ms to 48.66ms was obtained. The correlation of 0.86 was observed between CV and P2P amplitude, and 0.62 between CV and FD.Conclusion: In this paper, a method is presented and validated which calculates the CV for the deformed catheter and changing wall contact. In an exemplary clinical data set correlation between regional CV with FD and the P2P voltage was observed.
Conference Contributions (11)
O. Dössel, T. Oesterlein, L. Unger, A. Loewe, C. Schmitt, and A. Luik. Spatio-temporal Analysis of Multichannel Atrial Electrograms Based on a Concept of Active Areas. In Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. Annual Conference, vol. 2018, pp. 490-493, 2018
Atrial tachycardia and atrial flutter are frequent arrhythmia that occur spontaneously and after ablation of atrial fibrillation. Depolarization waves that differ significantly from sinus rhythm propagate across the atria with high frequency (typically 140 to 220 beats per minute). A detailed and personalized analysis of the spread of depolarization is imperative for a successful ablation therapy. Thus, catheters with several electrodes are employed to measure multichannel electrograms inside the atria. Here we propose a new concept for spatio-temporal analysis of multichannel electrograms during atrial tachycardia and atrial flutter. It is based on the calculation of simultaneously active areas. The method allows to identify atrial tachycardia and to automatically distinguish between subtypes of focal activity, micro-reentry and macro-reentry.
S. Schuler, A. Loewe, and O. Dössel. Forcing Transmembrane Voltages to Decrease Slowly: A Temporal Regularization for ECG Imaging. In Computing in Cardiology, vol. 45, 2018
ECG imaging aims to reconstruct the cardiac electrical activity from non-invasive measurements of body surface potentials (BSP) by finding unique and physiologically meaningful solutions to the inverse problem of electrocardiography. This can be accomplished using regularization, which reduces the space of admissible solutions by demanding solution properties that are already known beforehand. Messnarz et. al. proposed a regularization scheme that requires transmembrane voltages (TMV) to not decrease over time. We suggest a generalization of this method that forces TMVs to decrease only slowly and as a result can also be applied to irregular cardiac activity. We first develop the method using a simplified spherical geometry and then show its benefit for imaging fibrillatory activity on a realistic geometry of the atria.
Cardiac arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation occur frequently in industrialized countries. Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a standard treatment if drug therapy fails. This minimally invasive surgery aims at stabilizing the heart rhythm on a permanent basis. However, the procedure commonly needs to be repeated because of the high recurrence rate of arrhythmias. Non-transmural lesions as well as gaps within linear lesions are among the main problems during the RFA. The assessment of lesion formation is not adequate in state of the art procedures. Therefore, the aim of this study is to investigate the short-term reversibility of lesions using human electrograms recorded by a high-density mapping system during an electrophysiological study (EPS). A predefined measurement protocol was executed during the EPS in order to create three ablation points in the left atrium. Subsequently, after preprocessing the recorded signals, electrogram (EGM) paths were formed along the endocardial surface of the atrium. By analyzing changes of peak to peak amplitudes of unipolar EGMs before and after ablation, it was possible to distinguish lesion area and healthy myocardium. The peak to peak amplitudes of the EGMs decreased by 40-61% after 30 seconds of ablation. Furthermore, we analyzed the morphological changes of EGMs surrounding the lesion. High-density mapping data showed that not only the tissue, which had direct contact with the catheter tip during the RFA, but also the surrounding tissue was affected. This was demonstrated by low peak to peak amplitudes in large areas with a width of 14 mm around the center of the ablation lesion. After right pulmonary vein isolation, high-density mapping was repeated on the previous lesions. The outer region of RFA-treated tissue appears to recover as opposed to the central core of the ablation point. This observation suggests that the meaningfulness of an immediate remap after ablation during an EPS may lead the physician to false conclusions.
Patients suffering from end stage of chronic kid- ney disease (CKD) often undergo haemodialysis to normalize the electrolyte concentrations. Moreover, cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the main cause of death in CKD patients. To study the connection between CKD and CVD, we investi- gated the effects of an electrolyte variation on cardiac signals (action potential and ECG) using a computational model. In a first step, simulations with the Himeno et al. ventricular cell model were performed on cellular level with different extra- cellular sodium ([Na+]o), calcium ([Ca2+]o) and potassium ([K+]o) concentrations as occurs in CKD patients. [Ca2+]o and [K+]o changes caused variations in different features describ- ing the morphology of the AP. Changes due to a [Na+]o varia- tion were not as prominent. Simulations with [Ca2+]o varia- tions were also carried out on ventricular ECG level and a 12-lead ECG was computed. Thus, a multiscale simulator from ion channel to ECG reproducing the calcium-dependent inactivation of ICaL was achieved. The results on cellular and ventricular level agree with results from literature. Moreover, we suggest novel features representing electrolyte changes that have not been described in literature. These results could be helpful for further studies aiming at the estimation of ionic concentrations based on ECG recordings.
The contraction of the heart is a complex process involving the interaction of the passive properties of the tissue and the active tension development, which is elicited by the electrical activation of the cells. In this study, the electro-mechanical delay (EMD) was investigated as well as its dependence on the length of the sarcomeres, which are the contractile units within the cell. EMD was defined as the time offset between the electrical activation of the cell and the time of maximal tension. On a simple bar geometry with unidirectional fibre orientation and a linear local activation time distribution, the EMD proved to be inhomogeneous. The contraction of the early activated regions caused an elongation of the sarcomere (stretch) in the neighbouring regions, which ware electrically activated at a later time. The tension in the stretched region reached twice the value of the cells in the not-stretched, early activated region . Furthermore, the EMD in the early electrically activated region was more than 0.2 s, which was about twice the EMD of the stretched regions. In conclusion, the stretched region developed higher tension within a shorter time interval compared to the early activated region. Future studies will investigate how the inhomogeneous EMD affects cardiac output.
Background: Perimitral flutter commonly occurs following ablation of atrial fibrillation (AF) and can be cured by an anterior mitral line (AML). However, confirmation of bidirectional block can be challenging. Objective: We hypothesized that P-wave morphology and timing under left atrial appendage (LAA) pacing changes upon AML- block. Methods: We analyzed 129 consecutive patients (66±8 y, 64%male) who developed perimitral flutter after AF ablation. We designed ECG-criteria in a retrospective cohort (n=76) and analyzed them in a validation cohort (n=53). Results: Bidirectional AML-block was achieved in 110 patients (85%). For ablation performed during LAA-pacing without flutter (n=52), we found an immediate V1-jump (increase in LAA- stimulus to P-wave peak in lead V1) as a real-time marker of AML-block (V1-jump ≥30ms: sensitivity 95%, specificity 100%, PPV 100%, NPV 88%). Since V1-jump is not applicable when block coincides with termination of flutter, absolute V1-delay was used as a criterion applicable in all cases (n=129) with a delay of 203ms indicating block (sensitivity 92%, specificity 84%, PPV 90%, NPV 87%). Furthermore, an initial negative P-wave portion in the inferior leads was observed, which was attenuated in case of additional cavotricuspid isthmus (CTI) ablation. Computational P-wave simulations provide mechanistic confirmation of these findings for diverse ablation scenarios (pulmonary vein isolation±AML±roof-line±CTI ablation). Conclusion: V1-jump and V1-delay are novel real-time ECG- criteria allowing fast and straightforward assessment of AML- block during ablation for perimitral flutter.
The human heart is an organ of high complexity and hence, very challenging to simulate. To calculate the force developed by the human heart and therefore the tension of the muscle fibers, accurate models are necessary. The force generated by the cardiac muscle has physiologically imposed limits and depends on various characteristics such as the length, strain and the contraction velocity of the cardiomyocytes. Another characteristic is the activation time of each cardiomyocyte, which is a wave and not a static value for all cardiomyocytes. To simulate a physiologically correct excitation, the functionality of the cardiac simulation framework CardioMechanics was extended to incorporate inhomogeneous activation times. The functionality was then used to evaluate the effects of local activation times with two different tension models. The active stress generated by the cardiomyocytes was calculated by (i) an explicit function and (ii) an ode-based model. The results of the simulations showed that the maximum pressure in the left ventricle dropped by 2.3% for the DoubleHill model and by 5.3% for the Lumens model. In the right ventricle the simulations showed similar results. The maximum pressure in both the left and the right atrium increased using both models. Given that the simulation of the inhomogeneously activated cardiomyocytes increases the simulation time when used with the more precise Lumens model, the small drop in maximum pressure seems to be negligible in favor of a simpler simulation model.
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...
Multi-scale computational modeling of cardiac electrophysiology has fostered our understanding of the genesis of the ECG. While current models capture the relevant processes under physiological and many disease conditions with high fidelity, proper representation of the conditions in the extracellular milieu remains challenging. The recent human ventricular myocyte model by Himeno et al. is one of the first biophysical models which faithfully represents the dependence of the action potential (AP) duration on the extracellular calcium concentration ([Ca2+]o). Here, we present a heterogeneous formulation of the Himeno et al. cellular model and integrate it into a multi-scale framework to compute body surface ECGs. We propose three variants of the Himeno et al. model to account for transmural heterogeneity. The ionic current level parameter sets representing subendocardial, M, and subepicardial cell types were informed by the experimental data presented with the O’Hara-Rudy model and tuned to match AP level features such as repolarization stability. As shown in a previous work by Keller et al., an apico-basal gradient of IKs conductance is a likely mechanism causing concordant T-waves. Therefore, we increased the IKs conductance in the Himeno et al. model at the apex by a factor of 3.5 compared to the base to obtain an APD shortening of 12.5%. The model setup comprising transmural and apico-basal heterogeneity yielded a physiological ventricular ECG comparable to previous setups building on the ten Tusscher et al. cellular model. Our novel setup allows to study, for the first time, how realistic changes of the AP under hypo- and hypercalcaemic conditions translate to changes in the ECG. Resulting QT prolongation under hypocalcaemic conditions quantitatively matched human experimental data. In conclusion, the setup presented here provides a tool to study the effect of altered calcium levels in the extracellular milieu of the heart, as e. g. occurring during renal failure, across multiple spatial scales mechanistically.