Researchers at Columbia Engineering School have developed the first non-invasive technique to map the electrical activation of the heart, which will enable doctors to treat arrhythmias more efficiently and more precisely.
Electromechanical Wave Imaging (EWI) is based on ultrasound imaging.
Up until now, other research groups have mostly focused on measuring the electrical activation directly but invasively, through electrode contact, or non-invasively but indirectly, through complex mathematical modeling based on remote measurements."This is an important breakthrough. The approach we have chosen - to look at the minute deformations following the electrical activation of the heart - is both direct and noninvasive," said Elisa Konofagou, who led the research.
"Electromechanical Wave Imaging is also eminently transnational as it can be incorporated into most ultrasound scanners already available in hospitals and clinics, and can be modified at little or no cost to use our technology," he said.
Using their EWI method, the research team imaged the heart with ultrasound five times faster than standard echocardiography and mapped the local deformations of the heart with their images.
EWI could help determine in advance which patients can benefit from artificial electrical activation or identify with more precision which regions of the heart should be ablated. It could also be used to adapt treatment parameters as the patient's condition evolves.
The study was published online in the May 9th Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.