Normal and pathological NCAT image and phantom data based on physiologically realistic left ventricle finite-element models

Alexander I. Veress, W. Paul Segars, Jeffrey A. Weiss, Benjamin M.W. Tsui, Grant T. Gullberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


The four-dimensional (4-D) NURBS-based cardiac-torso (NCAT) phantom, which provides a realistic model of the normal human anatomy and cardiac and respiratory motions, is used in medical imaging research to evaluate and improve imaging devices and techniques, especially dynamic cardiac applications. One limitation of the phantom is that it lacks the ability to accurately simulate altered functions of the heart that result from cardiac pathologies such as coronary artery disease (CAD). The goal of this work was to enhance the 4-D NCAT phantom by incorporating a physiologically based, finite-element (FE) mechanical model of the left ventricle (LV) to simulate both normal and abnormal cardiac motions. The geometry of the FE mechanical model was based on gated high-resolution X-ray multislice computed tomography (MSCT) data of a healthy male subject. The myocardial wall was represented as a transversely isotropic hyperelastic material, with the fiber angle varying from -90° at the epicardial surface, through 0° at the midwall, to 90° at the endocardial surface. A time-varying elastance model was used to simulate fiber contraction, and physiological intraventricular systolic pressure-time curves were applied to simulate the cardiac motion over the entire cardiac cycle. To demonstrate the ability of the FE mechanical model to accurately simulate the normal cardiac motion as well as the abnormal motions indicative of CAD, a normal case and two pathologic cases were simulated and analyzed. In the first pathologic model, a subendocardial anterior ischemic region was defined. A second model was created with a transmural ischemic region defined in the same location. The FE-based deformations were incorporated into the 4-D NCAT cardiac model through the control points that define the cardiac structures in the phantom which were set to move according to the predictions of the mechanical model. A simulation study was performed using the FE-NCAT combination to investigate how the differences in contractile function between the subendocardial and transmural infarcts manifest themselves in myocardial Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) images. The normal FE model produced strain distributions that were consistent with those reported in the literature and a motion consistent with that defined in the normal 4-D NCAT beating heart model based on tagged magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data. The addition of a subendocardial ischemic region changed the average transmural circumferential strain from a contractile value of -0.09 to a tensile value of 0.02. The addition of a transmural ischemic region changed average circumferential strain to a value of 0.13, which is consistent with data reported in the literature. Model results demonstrated differences in contractile function between subendocardial and transmural infarcts and how these differences in function are documented in simulated myocardial SPECT images produced using the 4-D NCAT phantom. Compared with the original NCAT beating heart model, the FE mechanical model produced a more accurate simulation for the cardiac motion abnormalities. Such a model, when incorporated into the 4-D NCAT phantom, has great potential for use in cardiac imaging research. With its enhanced physiologically based cardiac model, the 4-D NCAT phantom can be used to simulate realistic, predictive imaging data of a patient population with varying whole-body anatomy and with varying healthy and diseased states of the heart that will provide a known truth from which to evaluate and improve existing and emerging 4-D imaging techniques used in the diagnosis of cardiac disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1604-1616
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE transactions on medical imaging
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2006


  • Cardiac imaging research
  • Finite element (FE)
  • Ischemia
  • Left ventricle
  • Mechanical model
  • NURBS-based cardiactorso (NCAT)
  • SPECT phantom

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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