Electrocardiographic imaging algorithm may help reduce invasive heart surgeries

An electrocardiographic imaging algorithm can produce higher resolution cardiac images of patients suffering from atrial fibrillation compared to traditional techniques, reported the authors of an Oct. 16 study published in APL Bioengineering.

Currently, clinicians use the inverse operator—a function that maps body-surface electrocardiogram signals—to reconstruct what’s happening inside a heart. However, lead author Abhejit Rajagopal, with the University of California, Santa Barbara, and colleagues created a nonlinear inversion algorithm to produce a more accurate reconstruction.

“We carefully add more parameters, which we counterbalance by adding a ‘Sobolev norm’ on the objective function we use to optimize the inverse operator,” Rajagopal said in a release. “The newly added parameters allow presumed models of body tissue to be optimized by real data to provide more accurate reconstructions of endocardial potentials.” 

The team gathered their experimental data by taking electrical measurements of a single male patient between 40 and 50 years old who was admitted for drug-refractory paroxysmal atrial fibrillation.

In testing the accuracy of the reconstructed endocardial voltage potentials, the authors reported an average absolute error of .327 mV. They wrote the results were indicative of the high degree of confidence which can be placed on their new method.

Overall, Rajagopal and colleagues believe their new method could change the way cardiologists and electrophysiology specialists study heart conditions in live patients.

“Imagine a world where instead of a doctor listening to your heart through a stethoscope they can see a live video of your heart beating via ultrasound with corresponding electrical measurements of the local potentials on or around the cardiac tissue,” Rajagopal said in the statement. “The goal is for doctors to be able to treat patients with cardiac issues without needing to use invasive surgeries just to determine the cause.”