James F. Greenleaf
Dept. of Physiol. and Biophys., Mayo Clinic and Foundation, 200 First St., SW, Rochester, MN 55905
Mayo Clinic and Foundation, Rochester, MN 55905
Modern commercial medical ultrasound instruments are capable of obtaining up to 40 real-time, two-dimensional images per second. One of the most difficult organs to evaluate with ultrasound is the heart. The heart is a complex organ that achieves its pumping function through cyclic motion of its chambers and valves. Computerized visualization of the heart is being developed to aid in training and to provide comprehensible images of this complex organ to the patient, the surgeon, and the researcher. To obtain the required data, the two-dimensional imaging plane of an ultrasound instrument is scanned through the heart from the surface of the chest, or more commonly, from within the esophagus. Sequences of digitized two-dimensional images taken at incremental positions through the heart are gated with the cardiac cycle and assembled by computer programs into volumetric images. Visualization methods of filtering, segmentation, and rendering are used to produce comprehensible, data dense, three-dimensional images of the heart. Sequences of the three-dimensional images obtained at sequential points through the cardiac cycle produce what are called ``four''-dimensional images. Mathematical projections of elements of these images onto selected two-dimensional planes can be recorded on videotape to produce movies of the structure or function of interest at various angles of view. Metrics such as distance, area, volume, or speed can be used on these data to produce quantitative measurements.