Extending MRI to the Quantification of Turbulence Intensity
Sammanfattning: In cardiovascular medicine, the assessment of blood flow is fundamental to the understanding and detection of disease. Many pharmaceutical, interventional, and surgical treatments impact the flow. The primary purpose of the cardiovascular system is to drive, control and maintain blood flow to all parts of the body. In the normal cardiovascular system, fluid transport is maintained at high efficiency and the blood flow is essentially laminar. Disturbed and turbulent blood flow, on the other hand, appears to be present in many cardiovascular diseases and may contribute to their initiation and progression. Despite strong indications of an important interrelationship between flow and cardiovascular disease, medical imaging has lacked a non-invasive tool for the in vivo assessment of disturbed and turbulent flow. As a result, the extent and role of turbulence in the blood flow of humans have not yet been fully investigated.Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a versatile tool for the non-invasive assessment of flow and has several important clinical and research applications, but might not yet have reached its full potential. Conventional MRI techniques for the assessment of flow are based on measurements of the mean velocity within an image voxel. The mean velocity corresponds to the first raw moment of the distribution of velocities within a voxel. An MRI framework for the quantification of any moment (mean, standard deviation, skew, etc.) of arbitrary velocity distributions is presented in this thesis.Disturbed and turbulent flows are characterized by velocity fluctuations that are superimposed on the mean velocity. The intensity of these velocity fluctuations can be quantified by their standard deviation, which is a commonly used measure of turbulence intensity. This thesis focuses on the development of a novel MRI method for the quantification of turbulence intensity. This method is mathematically derived and experimentally validated. Limitations and sources of error are investigated and guidelines for adequate application of MRI measurements of turbulence intensity are outlined. Furthermore, the method is adapted to the quantification of turbulence intensity in the pulsatile blood flow of humans and applied to a wide range of cardiovascular diseases. In these applications, elevated turbulence intensity was consistently detected in regions where highly disturbed flow was anticipated, and the effects of potential sources of errors were small.Diseased heart valves are often replaced with prosthetic heart valves, which, in spite of improved benefits and durability, continue to fall short of matching native flow patterns. In an in vitro setting, MRI was used to visualize and quantify turbulence intensity in the flow downstream from four common designs of prosthetic heart valves. Marked differences in the extent and degree of turbulence intensity were detected between the different valves.Mitral valve regurgitation is a common valve lesion associated with progressive left atrial and left ventricular remodelling, which may often require surgical correction to avoid irreversible ventricular dysfunction. The spatiotemporal dynamics of flow disturbances in mitral regurgitation were assessed based on measurements of flow patterns and turbulence intensity in a group of patients with significant regurgitation arising from similar valve lesions. Peak turbulence intensity occurred at the same time in all patients and the total turbulence intensity in the left atrium appeared closely related to the severity of regurgitation.MRI quantification of turbulence intensity has the potential to become a valuable tool in investigating the extent, timing and role of disturbed blood flow in the human cardiovascular system, as well as in the assessment of the effects of different therapeutic options in patients with vascular or valvular disorders.
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