PITA Fiscal Year 2007 Projects

Biomedical and Health Engineering

Quantification of regional tissue strains from dynamic CT images
Since the early 1990s the possibility to acquire combined anatomical and functional information of anatomic structures such as the heart and the brain has opened significant avenues both in fundamental research on the mechanisms involved in physiopathology as well as in the development of new therapeutics. A very important measure of function and an indication of possible pathological states in the cardiovascular system is the quantitative measure of regional deformation. But as of today the problem has been approached by using invasive techniques or sophisticated devices that are rarely employed in the standard care of patients. Our goal is to bridge statistical and computer science methods to obtain a quantifiable measure of the deformation of cardiac and vascular tissue in vivo, from standard 3D image sequences. Our multidisciplinary team will exploit the expertise in diagnostic imaging available within the Cardiovascular Institute and the Department of Radiology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and the computer science, mathematics, statistics and artificial intelligence capabilities of the Carnegie Mellon team to produce the desired soft tissue deformation measure.

Our clinical interest lies in two prevalent ailments that cause more than 20% of all deaths in Pennsylvania, namely left atrial pathologies and abdominal aortic aneurysms. Specifically, we aim to link regional mechanics (as quantified by our methods) to the dysfunction and to develop a comprehensive approach to the early detection of left atrial pathologies such as atrial fibrillation. The acquired data will advance knowledge towards new therapeutic interventions. Likewise, regional mechanical anomalies due to thinning, stiffening or weakening of the wall, identified non-invasively, will be utilized to predict the risk of rupture of aortic aneurysms.