The Finnish start-up company cardiomeDIC uses a StrainMaster system from LaVision for his cardiac strain examinations

Wednesday, 15. February 2017

DIC lights up hearts

A new method of the Finnish start-up cardiomeDIC based on Digital Image Correlation (DIC) helps heart surgeons to achieve better results in open heart surgery and delivers new information about the functioning of the heart during an operative procedure.

The functioning of the right side of the heart cannot be reliably measured and quantified during the heart surgery by any current technological method, even though it is a well-known fact that any problems associated with the functioning of the right ventricle can have serious complications. Following the current state of the art, the function of the heart is evaluated using an ultrasonic sensor placed in the esophagus of the patient. This sensor provides information about the function of the left ventricle, but it has only limited feasibility in describing the deformation and motion of the right ventricle and atrium. The walls of the right ventricle are very thin compared to the left ventricle, whilst at the same time the heart is lifted up with cardiac sack during surgery, making contact non-optimal. Therefore, ultrasound technology has shortcomings in focusing on the right side of the heart. Furthermore, everyone who has seen an ultrasound image knows that they typically are of fairly low quality and require a lot of user expertise and experience for correct interpretation. Because of this, visual inspection by the operating surgeons is currently the best practice to evaluate the condition and functioning of the right ventricle and atrium. The accuracy obviously depends on the experience and skills of the surgeon, and is prone to cognitive bias.

The digital image correlation method further developed by cardiomeDIC provides a significant improvement to the ultrasound measurement by providing high-quality measurement data obtained independently of a single individual or her/ his abilities. The reliability of the obtained data increases and the results of different cardiac operations can be compared according to standardized criteria’s, which brings about improvements in usability, reliability and repeatability.

The measurements are based on optical imaging, and are therefore both contact free and free of any hazardous radiation. Cameras record the contraction and expansion of the heart muscle during the whole operation. The strain of the muscle along the fiber direction of the tissue is calculated, thus enabling a quantitative functional description of the right side of the heart. Results can be visualized in various ways as required by the situation. One significant benefit is the ability to compare the functioning of the heart at different stages during the operation, which typically lasts for several hours. The first patent is pending (EP16200135). cardiomeDIC uses a StrainMaster system from LaVision for his cardiac strain examinations.

The video below illustrates the capabilities of the technology.