Objective: Clinical outcomes from deep brain stimulation (DBS) can be highly variable, and two critical factors underlying this variability are the location and type of stimulation. In this study we quantified how robustly DBS activates a target region when taking into account a range of different lead designs and realistic variations in placement. The objective of the study is to assess the likelihood of achieving target activation.
Approach: We performed finite element computational modeling and established a metric of performance robustness to evaluate the ability of directional and multi-lead configurations to activate target fiber pathways while taking into account location variability. A more robust lead configuration produces less variability in activation across all stimulation locations around the target.
Main results: Directional leads demonstrated higher overall performance robustness compared to axisymmetric leads, primarily 1-2 mm outside of the target. Multi-lead configurations demonstrated higher levels of robustness compared to any single lead due to distribution of electrodes in a broader region around the target.
Significance: Robustness measures can be used to evaluate the performance of existing DBS lead designs and aid in the development of novel lead designs to better accommodate known variability in lead location and orientation. This type of analysis may also be useful to understand how DBS clinical outcome variability is influenced by lead location among groups of patients.
F. Wang, N. Marshak, W. Usher, C. Burstedde, A. Knoll, T. Heister, C. R. Johnson. CPU Ray Tracing of Tree-Based Adaptive Mesh Refinement Data, In Eurographics Conference on Visualization (EuroVis) 2020, Vol. 39, No. 3, 2020.
Adaptive mesh refinement (AMR) techniques allow for representing a simulation’s computation domain in an adaptive fashion. Although these techniques have found widespread adoption in high-performance computing simulations, visualizing their data output interactively and without cracks or artifacts remains challenging. In this paper, we present an efficient solution for direct volume rendering and hybrid implicit isosurface ray tracing of tree-based AMR (TB-AMR) data. We propose a novel reconstruction strategy, Generalized Trilinear Interpolation (GTI), to interpolate across AMR level boundaries without cracks or discontinuities in the surface normal. We employ a general sparse octree structure supporting a wide range of AMR data, and use it to accelerate volume rendering, hybrid implicit isosurface rendering and value queries. We demonstrate that our approach achieves artifact-free isosurface and volume rendering and provides higher quality output images compared to existing methods at interactive rendering rates.
L. Zhou, M. Rivinius, C. R. Johnson,, D. Weiskopf. Photographic High-Dynamic-Range Scalar Visualization, In IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, Vol. 26, No. 6, IEEE, pp. 2156-2167. 2020.
We propose a photographic method to show scalar values of high dynamic range (HDR) by color mapping for 2D visualization. We combine (1) tone-mapping operators that transform the data to the display range of the monitor while preserving perceptually important features based on a systematic evaluation and (2) simulated glares that highlight high-value regions. Simulated glares are effective for highlighting small areas (of a few pixels) that may not be visible with conventional visualizations; through a controlled perception study, we confirm that glare is preattentive. The usefulness of our overall photographic HDR visualization is validated through the feedback of expert users.
We present a framework for the analysis of uncertainty in isocontour extraction. The marching squares (MS) algorithm for isocontour reconstruction generates a linear topology that is consistent with hyperbolic curves of a piecewise bilinear interpolation. The saddle points of the bilinear interpolant cause topological ambiguity in isocontour extraction. The midpoint decider and the asymptotic decider are well-known mathematical techniques for resolving topological ambiguities. The latter technique investigates the data values at the cell saddle points for ambiguity resolution. The uncertainty in data, however, leads to uncertainty in underlying bilinear interpolation functions for the MS algorithm, and hence, their saddle points. In our work, we study the behavior of the asymptotic decider when data at grid vertices is uncertain. First, we derive closed-form distributions characterizing variations in the saddle point values for uncertain bilinear interpolants. The derivation assumes uniform and nonparametric noise models, and it exploits the concept of ratio distribution for analytic formulations. Next, the probabilistic asymptotic decider is devised for ambiguity resolution in uncertain data using distributions of the saddle point values derived in the first step. Finally, the confidence in probabilistic topological decisions is visualized using a colormapping technique. We demonstrate the higher accuracy and stability of the probabilistic asymptotic decider in uncertain data with regard to existing decision frameworks, such as deciders in the mean field and the probabilistic midpoint decider, through the isocontour visualization of synthetic and real datasets.
A statistical framework for quantification and visualisation of positional uncertainty in deep brain stimulation electrodes, In Computer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering: Imaging & Visualization, Vol. 7, No. 4, Taylor & Francis, pp. 438-449. 2019.
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is an established therapy for treating patients with movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. Patient-specific computational modelling and visualisation have been shown to play a key role in surgical and therapeutic decisions for DBS. The computational models use brain imaging, such as magnetic resonance (MR) and computed tomography (CT), to determine the DBS electrode positions within the patient’s head. The finite resolution of brain imaging, however, introduces uncertainty in electrode positions. The DBS stimulation settings for optimal patient response are sensitive to the relative positioning of DBS electrodes to a specific neural substrate (white/grey matter). In our contribution, we study positional uncertainty in the DBS electrodes for imaging with finite resolution. In a three-step approach, we first derive a closed-form mathematical model characterising the geometry of the DBS electrodes. Second, we devise a statistical framework for quantifying the uncertainty in the positional attributes of the DBS electrodes, namely the direction of longitudinal axis and the contact-centre positions at subvoxel levels. The statistical framework leverages the analytical model derived in step one and a Bayesian probabilistic model for uncertainty quantification. Finally, the uncertainty in contact-centre positions is interactively visualised through volume rendering and isosurfacing techniques. We demonstrate the efficacy of our contribution through experiments on synthetic and real datasets. We show that the spatial variations in true electrode positions are significant for finite resolution imaging, and interactive visualisation can be instrumental in exploring probabilistic positional variations in the DBS lead.
P. R. Atkins, Y. Shin, P. Agrawal, S. Y. Elhabian, R. T. Whitaker, J. A. Weiss, S. K. Aoki, C. L. Peters, A. E. Anderson. Which Two-dimensional Radiographic Measurements of Cam Femoroacetabular Impingement Best Describe the Three-dimensional Shape of the Proximal Femur?, In Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, Vol. 477, No. 1, 2019.
Many two-dimensional (2-D) radiographic views are used to help diagnose cam femoroacetabular impingement (FAI), but there is little consensus as to which view or combination of views is most effective at visualizing the magnitude and extent of the cam lesion (ie, severity). Previous studies have used a single image from a sequence of CT or MR images to serve as a reference standard with which to evaluate the ability of 2-D radiographic views and associated measurements to describe the severity of the cam lesion. However, single images from CT or MRI data may fail to capture the apex of the cam lesion. Thus, it may be more appropriate to use measurements of three-dimensional (3-D) surface reconstructions from CT or MRI data to serve as an anatomic reference standard when evaluating radiographic views and associated measurements used in the diagnosis of cam FAI.
The purpose of this study was to use digitally reconstructed radiographs and 3-D statistical shape modeling to (1) determine the correlation between 2-D radiographic measurements of cam FAI and 3-D metrics of proximal femoral shape; and 2) identify the combination of radiographic measurements from plain film projections that were most effective at predicting the 3-D shape of the proximal femur.
This study leveraged previously acquired CT images of the femur from a convenience sample of 37 patients (34 males; mean age, 27 years, range, 16-47 years; mean body mass index [BMI], 24.6 kg/m, range, 19.0-30.2 kg/m) diagnosed with cam FAI imaged between February 2005 and January 2016. Patients were diagnosed with cam FAI based on a culmination of clinical examinations, history of hip pain, and imaging findings. The control group consisted of 59 morphologically normal control participants (36 males; mean age, 29 years, range, 15-55 years; mean BMI, 24.4 kg/m, range, 16.3-38.6 kg/m) imaged between April 2008 and September 2014. Of these controls, 30 were cadaveric femurs and 29 were living participants. All controls were screened for evidence of femoral deformities using radiographs. In addition, living control participants had no history of hip pain or previous surgery to the hip or lower limbs. CT images were acquired for each participant and the surface of the proximal femur was segmented and reconstructed. Surfaces were input to our statistical shape modeling pipeline, which objectively calculated 3-D shape scores that described the overall shape of the entire proximal femur and of the region of the femur where the cam lesion is typically located. Digital reconstructions for eight plain film views (AP, Meyer lateral, 45° Dunn, modified 45° Dunn, frog-leg lateral, Espié frog-leg, 90° Dunn, and cross-table lateral) were generated from CT data. For each view, measurements of the α angle and head-neck offset were obtained by two researchers (intraobserver correlation coefficients of 0.80-0.94 for the α angle and 0.42-0.80 for the head-neck offset measurements). The relationships between radiographic measurements from each view and the 3-D shape scores (for the entire proximal femur and for the region specific to the cam lesion) were assessed with linear correlation. Additionally, partial least squares regression was used to determine which combination of views and measurements was the most effective at predicting 3-D shape scores.
Three-dimensional shape scores were most strongly correlated with α angle on the cross-table view when considering the entire proximal femur (r = -0.568; p < 0.001) and on the Meyer lateral view when considering the region of the cam lesion (r = -0.669; p < 0.001). Partial least squares regression demonstrated that measurements from the Meyer lateral and 90° Dunn radiographs produced the optimized regression model for predicting shape scores for the proximal femur (R = 0.405, root mean squared error of prediction [RMSEP] = 1.549) and the region of the cam lesion (R = 0.525, RMSEP = 1.150). Interestingly, views with larger differences in the α angle and head-neck offset between control and cam FAI groups did not have the strongest correlations with 3-D shape.
Considered together, radiographic measurements from the Meyer lateral and 90° Dunn views provided the most effective predictions of 3-D shape of the proximal femur and the region of the cam lesion as determined using shape modeling metrics.
Our results suggest that clinicians should consider using the Meyer lateral and 90° Dunn views to evaluate patients in whom cam FAI is suspected. However, the α angle and head-neck offset measurements from these and other plain film views could describe no more than half of the overall variation in the shape of the proximal femur and cam lesion. Thus, caution should be exercised when evaluating femoral head anatomy using the α angle and head-neck offset measurements from plain film radiographs. Given these findings, we believe there is merit in pursuing research that aims to develop the framework necessary to integrate statistical shape modeling into clinical evaluation, because this could aid in the diagnosis of cam FAI.
R. Bhalodia, S. Y. Elhabian, L. Kavan, R. T. Whitaker. A Cooperative Autoencoder for Population-Based Regularization of CNN Image Registration, In Medical Image Computing and Computer Assisted Intervention – MICCAI 2019, In Medical Image Computing and Computer Assisted Intervention -- MICCAI 2019, Springer International Publishing, pp. 391--400. 2019.
Spatial transformations are enablers in a variety of medical image analysis applications that entail aligning images to a common coordinate systems. Population analysis of such transformations is expected to capture the underlying image and shape variations, and hence these transformations are required to produce anatomically feasible correspondences. This is usually enforced through some smoothness-based generic metric or regularization of the deformation field. Alternatively, population-based regularization has been shown to produce anatomically accurate correspondences in cases where anatomically unaware (i.e., data independent) regularization fail. Recently, deep networks have been used to generate spatial transformations in an unsupervised manner, and, once trained, these networks are computationally faster and as accurate as conventional, optimization-based registration methods. However, the deformation fields produced by these networks require smoothness penalties, just as the conventional registration methods, and ignores population-level statistics of the transformations. Here, we propose a novel neural network architecture that simultaneously learns and uses the population-level statistics of the spatial transformations to regularize the neural networks for unsupervised image registration. This regularization is in the form of a bottleneck autoencoder, which learns and adapts to the population of transformations required to align input images by encoding the transformations to a low dimensional manifold. The proposed architecture produces deformation fields that describe the population-level features and associated correspondences in an anatomically relevant manner and are statistically compact relative to the state-of-the-art approaches while maintaining computational efficiency. We demonstrate the efficacy of the proposed architecture on synthetic data sets, as well as 2D and 3D medical data.
Computational models are a popular tool for predicting the effects of deep brain stimulation (DBS) on neural tissue. One commonly used model, the volume of tissue activated (VTA), is computed using multiple methodologies. We quantified differences in the VTAs generated by five methodologies: the traditional axon model method, the electric field norm, and three activating function based approaches - the activating function at each grid point in the tangential direction (AF-Tan) or in the maximally activating direction (AF-3D), and the maximum activating function along the entire length of a tangential fiber (AF-Max).
Approach: We computed the VTA using each method across multiple stimulation settings. The resulting volumes were compared for similarity, and the methodologies were analyzed for their differences in behavior.
Main Results: Activation threshold values for both the electric field norm and the activating function vary with regards to electrode configuration, pulse width, and frequency. All methods produced highly similar volumes for monopolar stimulation. For bipolar electrode configurations, only the maximum activating function along the tangential axon method, AF-Max, produced similar volumes to those produced by the axon model method. Further analysis revealed that both of these methods are biased by their exclusive use of tangential fiber orientations. In contrast, the activating function in the maximally activating direction method, AF-3D, produces a VTA that is free of axon orientation and projection bias.
Significance: Simulating tangentially oriented axons, the standard approach of computing the VTA, is too computationally expensive for widespread implementation and yields results biased by the assumption of tangential fiber orientation. In this work, we show that a computationally efficient method based on the activating function, AF-Max, reliably reproduces the VTAs generated by direct axon modeling. Further, we propose another method, AF-3D as a potentially superior model for representing generic neural tissue activation.
M. Han, I. Wald, W. Usher, Q. Wu, F. Wang, V. Pascicci, C. D. Hansen, C. R. Johnson. Ray Tracing Generalized Tube Primitives: Method and Applications, In Computer Graphics Forum, Vol. 38, No. 3, John Wiley & Sons Ltd., 2019.
We present a general high-performance technique for ray tracing generalized tube primitives. Our technique efficiently supports tube primitives with fixed and varying radii, general acyclic graph structures with bifurcations, and correct transparency with interior surface removal. Such tube primitives are widely used in scientific visualization to represent diffusion tensor imaging tractographies, neuron morphologies, and scalar or vector fields of 3D flow. We implement our approach within the OSPRay ray tracing framework, and evaluate it on a range of interactive visualization use cases of fixed- and varying-radius streamlines, pathlines, complex neuron morphologies, and brain tractographies. Our proposed approach provides interactive, high-quality rendering, with low memory overhead.
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) can be an effective therapy for tics and comorbidities in select cases of severe, treatment-refractory Tourette syndrome (TS). Clinical responses remain variable across patients, which may be attributed to differences in the location of the neuroanatomical regions being stimulated. We evaluated active contact locations and regions of stimulation across a large cohort of patients with TS in an effort to guide future targeting.
Interactive computation and visualization of deep brain stimulation effects using Duality, In Computer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering: Imaging & Visualization, Taylor & Francis, 2019.J. Vorwerk, D. McCann, J. Krüger, C.R. Butson.
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is an established treatment for movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease or essential tremor. Currently, the selection of optimal stimulation settings is performed by iteratively adjusting the stimulation parameters and is a time consuming procedure that requires multiple clinic visits of several hours. Recently, computational models to predict and visualize the effect of DBS have been developed with the goal to simplify and accelerate this procedure by providing visual guidance and such models have been made available also on mobile devices. However, currently available visualization software still either lacks mobility, i.e. it is running on desktop computers and no easily available in clinical praxis, or flexibility, as the simulations that are visualized on mobile devices have to be precomputed. The goal of the pipeline presented in this paper is to close this gap: Using Duality, a newly developed software for the interactive visualization of simulation results, we implemented a pipeline that allows to compute DBS simulations in near-real time and instantaneously visualize the result on a tablet computer. We carry out a performance analysis and present the results of a case study in which the pipeline was applied.
A. Warner, J. Tate, B. Burton,, C.R. Johnson.
A High-Resolution Head and Brain Computer Model for Forward and Inverse EEG Simulation, In bioRxiv, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Feb, 2019.
To conduct computational forward and inverse EEG studies of brain electrical activity, researchers must construct realistic head and brain computer models, which is both challenging and time consuming. The availability of realistic head models and corresponding imaging data is limited in terms of imaging modalities and patient diversity. In this paper, we describe a detailed head modeling pipeline and provide a high-resolution, multimodal, open-source, female head and brain model. The modeling pipeline specifically outlines image acquisition, preprocessing, registration, and segmentation; three-dimensional tetrahedral mesh generation; finite element EEG simulations; and visualization of the model and simulation results. The dataset includes both functional and structural images and EEG recordings from two high-resolution electrode configurations. The intermediate results and software components are also included in the dataset to facilitate modifications to the pipeline. This project will contribute to neuroscience research by providing a high-quality dataset that can be used for a variety of applications and a computational pipeline that may help researchers construct new head models more efficiently.
L. Zhou, D. Weiskopf, C. R. Johnson.
Perceptually guided contrast enhancement based on viewing distance, In Journal of Computer Languages, Vol. 55, Elsevier, pp. 100911. 2019.
We propose an image-space contrast enhancement method for color-encoded visualization. The contrast of an image is enhanced through a perceptually guided approach that interfaces with the user with a single and intuitive parameter of the virtual viewing distance. To this end, we analyze a multiscale contrast model of the input image and test the visibility of bandpass images of all scales at a virtual viewing distance. By adapting weights of bandpass images with a threshold model of spatial vision, this image-based method enhances contrast to compensate for contrast loss caused by viewing the image at a certain distance. Relevant features in the color image can be further emphasized by the user using overcompensation. The weights can be assigned with a simple band-based approach, or with an efficient pixel-based approach that reduces ringing artifacts. The method is efficient and can be integrated into any visualization tool as it is a generic image-based post-processing technique. Using highly diverse datasets, we show the usefulness of perception compensation across a wide range of typical visualizations.
In this paper, we propose a perceptually-guided visualization sharpening technique.We analyze the spectral behavior of an established comprehensive perceptual model to arrive at our approximated model based on an adapted weighting of the bandpass images from a Gaussian pyramid. The main benefit of this approximated model is its controllability and predictability for sharpening color-mapped visualizations. Our method can be integrated into any visualization tool as it adopts generic image-based post-processing, and it is intuitive and easy to use as viewing distance is the only parameter. Using highly diverse datasets, we show the usefulness of our method across a wide range of typical visualizations.
D. N. Anderson, B. Osting, J. Vorwerk, A. D Dorval, C. R Butson. Optimized programming algorithm for cylindrical and directional deep brain stimulation electrodes, In Journal of Neural Engineering, Vol. 15, No. 2, pp. 026005. 2018.
Objective. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a growing treatment option for movement and psychiatric disorders. As DBS technology moves toward directional leads with increased numbers of smaller electrode contacts, trial-and-error methods of manual DBS programming are becoming too time-consuming for clinical feasibility. We propose an algorithm to automate DBS programming in near real-time for a wide range of DBS lead designs. Approach. Magnetic resonance imaging and diffusion tensor imaging are used to build finite element models that include anisotropic conductivity. The algorithm maximizes activation of target tissue and utilizes the Hessian matrix of the electric potential to approximate activation of neurons in all directions. We demonstrate our algorithm's ability in an example programming case that targets the subthalamic nucleus (STN) for the treatment of Parkinson's disease for three lead designs: the Medtronic 3389 (four cylindrical contacts), the direct STNAcute (two cylindrical contacts, six directional contacts), and the Medtronic-Sapiens lead (40 directional contacts). Main results. The optimization algorithm returns patient-specific contact configurations in near real-time—less than 10 s for even the most complex leads. When the lead was placed centrally in the target STN, the directional leads were able to activate over 50% of the region, whereas the Medtronic 3389 could activate only 40%. When the lead was placed 2 mm lateral to the target, the directional leads performed as well as they did in the central position, but the Medtronic 3389 activated only 2.9% of the STN. Significance. This DBS programming algorithm can be applied to cylindrical electrodes as well as novel directional leads that are too complex with modern technology to be manually programmed. This algorithm may reduce clinical programming time and encourage the use of directional leads, since they activate a larger volume of the target area than cylindrical electrodes in central and off-target lead placements.
A statistical framework for quantification and visualisation of positional uncertainty in deep brain stimulation electrodes, In Computer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering: Imaging & Visualization, Taylor & Francis, pp. 1-12. 2018.
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is an established therapy for treating patients with movement disorders such as Parkinson's disease. Patient-specific computational modelling and visualisation have been shown to play a key role in surgical and therapeutic decisions for DBS. The computational models use brain imaging, such as magnetic resonance (MR) and computed tomography (CT), to determine the DBS electrode positions within the patient's head. The finite resolution of brain imaging, however, introduces uncertainty in electrode positions. The DBS stimulation settings for optimal patient response are sensitive to the relative positioning of DBS electrodes to a specific neural substrate (white/grey matter). In our contribution, we study positional uncertainty in the DBS electrodes for imaging with finite resolution. In a three-step approach, we first derive a closed-form mathematical model characterising the geometry of the DBS electrodes. Second, we devise a statistical framework for quantifying the uncertainty in the positional attributes of the DBS electrodes, namely the direction of longitudinal axis and the contact-centre positions at subvoxel levels. The statistical framework leverages the analytical model derived in step one and a Bayesian probabilistic model for uncertainty quantification. Finally, the uncertainty in contact-centre positions is interactively visualised through volume rendering and isosurfacing techniques. We demonstrate the efficacy of our contribution through experiments on synthetic and real datasets. We show that the spatial variations in true electrode positions are significant for finite resolution imaging, and interactive visualisation can be instrumental in exploring probabilistic positional variations in the DBS lead.
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.
M. Cluitmans, D. H. Brooks, R. MacLeod, O. Dössel, M. S. Guillem, P. M. van Dam, J. Svehlikova, B. He, J. Sapp, L. Wang, L. Bear.
Validation and Opportunities of Electrocardiographic Imaging: From Technical Achievements to Clinical Applications, In Frontiers in Physiology, Vol. 9, Frontiers Media SA, pp. 1305. 2018.
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.