Aortic length measurements for pulse wave velocity calculation: manual 2D vs automated 3D centreline extraction

Arna van Engelen, Miguel Silva Vieira, Isma Rafiq, Marina Cecelja, Torben Schneider, Hubrecht de Bliek, C Alberto Figueroa, Tarique Hussain, Rene M Botnar, Jordi Alastruey

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BACKGROUND: Pulse wave velocity (PWV) is a biomarker for the intrinsic stiffness of the aortic wall, and has been shown to be predictive for cardiovascular events. It can be assessed using cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) from the delay between phase-contrast flow waveforms at two or more locations in the aorta, and the distance on CMR images between those locations. This study aimed to investigate the impact of different distance measurement methods on PWV. We present and evaluate an algorithm for automated centreline tracking in 3D images, and compare PWV calculations using distances derived from 3D images to those obtained from a conventional 2D oblique-sagittal image of the aorta.

METHODS: We included 35 patients from a twin cohort, and 20 post-coarctation repair patients. Phase-contrast flow was acquired in the ascending, descending and diaphragmatic aorta. A 3D centreline tracking algorithm is presented and evaluated on a subset of 30 subjects, on three CMR sequences: balanced steady-state free precession (SSFP), black-blood double inversion recovery turbo spin echo, and contrast-enhanced CMR angiography. Aortic lengths are subsequently compared between measurements from a 2D oblique-sagittal plane, and a 3D geometry.

RESULTS: The error in length of automated 3D centreline tracking compared with manual annotations ranged from 2.4 [1.8-4.3] mm (mean [IQR], black-blood) to 6.4 [4.7-8.9] mm (SSFP). The impact on PWV was below 0.5m/s (<5%). Differences between 2D and 3D centreline length were significant for the majority of our experiments (p < 0.05). Individual differences in PWV were larger than 0.5m/s in 15% of all cases (thoracic aorta) and 37% when studying the aortic arch only. Finally, the difference between end-diastolic and end-systolic 2D centreline lengths was statistically significant (p < 0.01), but resulted in small differences in PWV (0.08 [0.04 - 0.10]m/s).

CONCLUSIONS: Automatic aortic centreline tracking in three commonly used CMR sequences is possible with good accuracy. The 3D length obtained from such sequences can differ considerably from lengths obtained from a 2D oblique-sagittal plane, depending on aortic curvature, adequate planning of the oblique-sagittal plane, and patient motion between acquisitions. For accurate PWV measurements we recommend using 3D centrelines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32
JournalJournal of Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Mar 2017


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