Automatic image-based tracking of gadolinium-filled balloon wedge catheters for MRI-guided cardiac catheterization using deep learning

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Introduction: Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a promising alternative to standard x-ray fluoroscopy for the guidance of cardiac catheterization procedures as it enables soft tissue visualization, avoids ionizing radiation and provides improved hemodynamic data. MRI-guided cardiac catheterization procedures currently require frequent manual tracking of the imaging plane during navigation to follow the tip of a gadolinium-filled balloon wedge catheter, which unnecessarily prolongs and complicates the procedures. Therefore, real-time automatic image-based detection of the catheter balloon has the potential to improve catheter visualization and navigation through automatic slice tracking. Methods: In this study, an automatic, parameter-free, deep-learning-based post-processing pipeline was developed for real-time detection of the catheter balloon. A U-Net architecture with a ResNet-34 encoder was trained on semi-artificial images for the segmentation of the catheter balloon. Post-processing steps were implemented to guarantee a unique estimate of the catheter tip coordinates. This approach was evaluated retrospectively in 7 patients (6M and 1F, age = 7 ± 5 year) who underwent an MRI-guided right heart catheterization procedure with all images acquired in an orientation unseen during training. Results: The overall accuracy, specificity and sensitivity of the proposed catheter tracking strategy over all 7 patients were 98.4 ± 2.0%, 99.9 ± 0.2% and 95.4 ± 5.5%, respectively. The computation time of the deep-learning-based segmentation step was ∼10 ms/image, indicating its compatibility with real-time constraints. Conclusion: Deep-learning-based catheter balloon tracking is feasible, accurate, parameter-free, and compatible with real-time conditions. Online integration of the technique and its evaluation in a larger patient cohort are now warranted to determine its benefit during MRI-guided cardiac catheterization.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1233093
JournalFrontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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