Cardiovascular fluid dynamics : methods for flow and pressure field analysis from magnetic resonance imaging

University dissertation from Linköping : Linköpings universitet

Abstract: Cardiovascular blood flow is highly complex and incompletely understood. Blood flow patterns are expected to influence the opening and closing of normal and prosthetic heart valves, the efficiency of cardiac filling and ejection, and the resistance to thrombus formation within the heart. Conventional diagnostic techniques are poorly suited to the study of the three-dimensional (3D) blood flow patterns in the heart chambers and large vessels. Noninvasive methods have also been inadequate in studying intracardiac pressure differences, which are the driving force of flow and are critical in the evaluation of many cardiovascular abnormalities.This thesis focuses on the development of non-invasive methods for analysis of 3D cardiovascular blood flow. Simultaneous study of cardiovascular fluid dynamics allowed knowledge exchange across the two disciplines, facilitating the development process and broadening the applicability of the methods.A time-resolved 3D phase-contrast Magnetic Resonance lrnaging (MRI) technique was used to acquire the velocity vector field in a 3D volume encompassing the entire heart or a large vessel. Cardiovascular blood flow patterns were visualized by use of particle traces, which revealed, for instance, vortical flow patterns in the left atrium.By applying the Navier-Stokes equation along a user-defined line in the 3D velocity vector field, the relative pressure could be obtained as an excellent supplement to the flow pattern visualization. Using a delineation of the blood pool, the time-varying 3D relative pressure field in the human left ventricle was obtained from the velocity field by use of the pressure Poisson equation.A delineation of the heart muscle, a task that is almost impossible to perform on 3D MRI either automatically or manually, was also achieved by usage of particle traces. This segmentation allows automatic calculation of the 3D relative pressure field, as well as calculation of well-established parameters such as ventricle volume and mass.Simultaneous 3D assessment of cardiovascular pressure and flow phenomena throughout the cardiac cycle offers an opportunity to expand our understanding of the basic determinants of time-varying flow in healthy and sick hearts, with the potential for improving our methods for diagnosis, medical treatment and surgical correction of cardiovascular diseases.

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