Robust Cardiac Function Assessment in 4D PC-MRI Data (English)

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Four-dimensional phase-contrast magnetic resonance imaging (4D PC-MRI) is a relatively young image modality that allows the non-invasive acquisition of time-resolved, three-dimensional blood flow information. Stroke volumes and regurgitation fractions are two of the main measures to assess the cardiac function and severity of pathologies. The flow volumes in forward and backward direction through a plane inside the vessel are required for their quantification. Unfortunately, the calculations are highly sensitive towards the plane's angulation since orthogonally passing flow is considered. This often leads to physiologically implausible results. In this work, a robust quantification method is introduced to overcome this problem. Collaborating radiologists and cardiologists were carefully observed while estimating stroke volumes in various healthy volunteer and patient datasets with conventional quantification. This facilitated the automatization of their approach which, in turn, allows to derive statistical information about the plane angulation sensitivity. Moreover, the experts expect a continuous decrease of the stroke volume along the vessel course after a peak value above the aortic valve. Conventional methods are often unable to produce this behavior. Thus, we present a procedure to fit a function that ensures such physiologically plausible results. In addition, the technique was adapted for the robust quantification of regurgitation fractions. The performed qualitative evaluation shows the capability of our method to support diagnosis, a parameter evaluation confirms the robustness. Vortex flow was identified as main cause for quantification uncertainties.

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