Diagnosis of ventricular dysfunction in congenital heart disease is more and more based on medical imaging, which allows investigation of abnormal cardiac morphology and correlated abnormal function. Although analysis of 2D images represents the clinical standard, novel tools performing automatic processing of 3D images are becoming available, providing more detailed and comprehensive information than simple 2D morphometry. Among these, statistical shape analysis (SSA) allows a consistent and quantitative description of a population of complex shapes, as a way to detect novel biomarkers, ultimately improving diagnosis and pathology understanding. The aim of this study is to describe the implementation of a SSA method for the investigation of 3D left ventricular shape and motion patterns and to test it on a small sample of 4 congenital repaired aortic stenosis patients and 4 age-matched healthy volunteers to demonstrate its potential. The advantage of this method is the capability of analyzing subject-specific motion patterns separately from the individual morphology, visually and quantitatively, as a way to identify functional abnormalities related to both dynamics and shape. Specifically, we combined 3D, high-resolution whole heart data with 2D, temporal information provided by cine cardiovascular magnetic resonance images, and we used an SSA approach to analyze 3D motion per se. Preliminary results of this pilot study showed that using this method, some differences in end-diastolic and end-systolic ventricular shapes could be captured, but it was not possible to clearly separate the two cohorts based on shape information alone. However, further analyses on ventricular motion allowed to qualitatively identify differences between the two populations. Moreover, by describing shape and motion with a small number of principal components, this method offers a fully automated process to obtain visually intuitive and numerical information on cardiac shape and motion, which could be, once validated on a larger sample size, easily integrated into the clinical workflow. To conclude, in this preliminary work, we have implemented state-of-the-art automatic segmentation and SSA methods, and we have shown how they could improve our understanding of ventricular kinetics by visually and potentially quantitatively highlighting aspects that are usually not picked up by traditional approaches.
Keywords: automatic segmentation; cardiac magnetic resonance; congenital heart disease; statistical shape analysis; ventricular mechanics.