University of Auckland researchers say they have developed the world's most detailed 3D computer models of the heart's upper chambers.
The researchers, led by Jichao Zhao, spent two years processing data from 700 thin image slices of the atria to use in their computer model. The model shows a detailed and realistic 3D image of the arrangement of muscle fibers throughout the heart's atrial chambers down to the cellular level. In order to achieve this, the researchers developed a suite of image-processing tools which enabled them to extract structural information from the images and examine the effects of the arrangement of muscle fibers on electrical signals in the atria.
"By combining novel multi-site mapping catheters with state-of-the-art imaging, it will be possible to get a snapshot of what’s going on in real time and with much greater anatomical precision than is currently achievable," Zhao says.
The researchers also developed the high-resolution computer models of areas directly affected by heart attacks. "Looking at the images of the border zone, you can see where the surviving muscle cells are being pushed apart and the spaces filled up with fibrous material which changes the electrical properties of the heart," says Auckland's Mark Trew.
From University of Auckland (New Zealand)
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