Ventricular myocardial architecture as visualised in postmortem swine hearts using magnetic resonance diffusion tensor imaging

Schmid, Peter ; Jaermann, Thomas ; Boesiger, Peter ; Niederer, Peter F. ; Lunkenheimer, Paul P. ; Cryer, Colin W. ; Anderson, Robert H.

In: European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery, 2005, vol. 27, no. 3, p. 468-472

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    Objective: The three-dimensional arrangement of the ventricular myocardial architecture remains controversial, in part because histological assessment is difficult to achieve, while anatomic dissections are, of necessity, destructive. In this study, we describe how the use of magnetic resonance diffusion tensor imaging has permitted us to reconstruct with precision the architecture of the ventricular myocardial fibres in the post-mortem swine heart. Methods and Results: We obtained diffusion-weighted spin-echo measurements of autopsied porcine hearts using a whole body MR system. We calculated the diffusion tensor and the corresponding eigenvectors on a voxel-by-voxel basis. This permitted us to colour code the fibres, and reconstruct them by connecting voxels in direction of the largest eigenvector. Such reconstructions show that, in the middle layer of the left ventricle, most of the fibres have a circular orientation, albit that a far from negligible component runs in a transverse direction. With increasing distance from the epicardium, the orientation of the fibres shows a continuous change in angulation with respect to an axis normal to the epicardium. Conclusion: Our data presented here supports the concept that the ventricular mass is arranged as a complex three-dimensional mesh of tangential and intruding fibres. The data offers no support for the concept of a ‘unique myocardial band'. The method has the potential to detecting deviations from this basic normal architecture, being capable of reconstructing the ventricular mass so as to assess the spatial coordinates of any single fibre strand. The technique, therefore, has major potential clinical applications in the setting of the failing or malformed heart, potentially being able to identify either systematic or regional disarray of the myocardial fibres