Researchers at Michigan Medicine have developed a novel method of tracking changes in the body’s main artery, which could aid clinicians in detecting potentially fatal cardiac diseases sooner.

What is thoracic aortic aneurysm

A thoracic aortic aneurysm develops when the aorta’s biggest portion weakens and expands, increasing the risk of a potentially deadly rupture or dissection.

Physicians urge regular testing, sometimes with CT scans, for about 3% of adult patients over 50 years old with this mainly asymptomatic syndrome to evaluate aortic development and determine if surgical correction is needed.

New generation method of early detection.

Vascular deformation mapping is a technique that detects changes in the thoracic aorta, which transports blood from the heart to the rest of the body.

This new technology combines high-resolution CT imaging to quantify three-dimensional changes in the aorta wall in a way that exceeds expert manual rating methods by a large margin.

Conventional methodology

The conventional method that has previously been used to investigate and take margins of an aneurysm was raters  Human “raters” line up two photos and put a distinction at two places to find the change, which is now the conventional method for measuring growth.

This procedure is prone to error, and in many cases, doctors are unable to determine whether the thoracic aorta is developing, leaving clinicians unsure of the optimal treatments and follow-up strategy.

Forrelies’ vascular deformation mapping technique relies on image registration, an image processing and analysis technique that coordinates the anatomy revealed in repeated CT scans by taking any pixel from the first scan and connecting its exact position to the pixel on the second scan.

A three-dimensional colour map of the aorta, after they’re all aligned, indicates how much and where the thoracic aorta has expanded.

Comparative analysis

When comparing the automated algorithm to two expert manual raters, researchers discovered that vascular deformation mapping surpassed humans in terms of reliability and variability in growth measurements.

When even the most experienced human analysts had measurements with errors of up to 3 millimetres, vascular deformation mapping reached an accuracy of less than 1 millimetre in all circumstances.

While these data indicate that vascular deformation mapping may be more valuable than human rating in identifying if an aortic aneurysm requires surgery, researchers say the method has to be tested in larger groups of patients in a clinic. The vascular deformation mapping approach, according to Burris, may be used on routine CT images of the aorta, making larger research investigations easier.

Future prospects

This is an entirely new perspective on aortic aneurysm growth. As this research progresses, it may be possible to apply it to a broader range of disorders, such as abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Moving from one-dimensional to three-dimensional measurements allows us to detect patterns of aneurysm formation in ways we’ve never seen before, as well as ask many new questions and understand how a very accurate tracking tool like this may be utilized to improve patient treatment.