Electromechanical wave imaging is a novel technique for the noninvasive mapping of conduction waves in the left ventricle through the combination of ECG gating, high frame rate ultrasound imaging and radio-frequency (RF)-based displacement estimation techniques. In this paper, we describe this new technique and characterize the origin and velocity of the wave under distinct pacing schemes. First, in vivo imaging (30 MHz) was performed on anesthetized, wild-type mice (n = 12) at high frame rates in order to take advantage of the transient electromechanical coupling occurring in the myocardium. The RF signal acquisition in a long-axis echocardiographic view was gated between consecutive R-wave peaks of the mouse electrocardiogram (ECG) and yielded an ultra-high RF frame rate of 8000 frames/s (fps). The ultrasound RF signals in each frame were digitized at 160 MHz. Axial, frame-to-frame displacements were estimated using 1D cross-correlation (window size of 240 μm, overlap of 90%). Three pacing protocols were sequentially applied in each mouse: (1) sinus rhythm (SR), (2) right-atrial (RA) pacing and (3) right-ventricular (RV) pacing. Pacing was performed using an eight-electrode catheter placed into the right side of the heart with the capability of pacing from any adjacent bipole. During a cardiac cycle, several waves were depicted on the electromechanical wave images that propagated transmurally and/or from base to apex, or apex to base, depending on the type of pacing and the cardiac phase. Through comparison between the ciné-loops and their corresponding ECG obtained at different pacing protocols, we were able to identify and separate the electrically induced, or contraction, waves from the hemodynamic (or, blood-wall coupling) waves. In all cases, the contraction wave was best observed along the posterior wall starting at the S-wave of the ECG, which occurs after Purkinje fiber, and during myocardial, activation. The contraction wave was identified based on the fact that it changed direction only when the pacing origin changed, i.e., it propagated from the apex to the base at SR and RA pacing and from base to apex at RV pacing. This reversal in the wave propagation direction was found to be consistent in all mice scanned and the wave velocity values fell within the previously reported conduction wave range with statistically significant differences between SR/RA pacing (0.85 ± 0.22 m/s and 0.84 ± 0.20 m/s, respectively) and RV pacing (-0.52 ± 0.31 m/s; p < 0.0001). This study thus shows that imaging the electromechanical function of the heart noninvasively is feasible. It may therefore constitute a unique noninvasive method for conduction wave mapping of the entire left ventricle. Such a technology can be extended to 3D mapping and/or used for early detection of dyssynchrony, arrhythmias, left-bundle branch block, or other conduction abnormalities as well as diagnosis and treatment thereof.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Acoustics and Ultrasonics
- Left ventricle