H2020 supports 3D visualisations of the heart
Rheumatic heart disease ©Nephron/Wikimedia

H2020 supports 3D visualisations of the heart

Heart surgeons will have access to an innovative 3D visualisation of the cardiac conduction system. The Horizon 2020-funded technique could improve patient safety and improve the surgical outcomes of those suffering from heart disease.

The 3D disposition of the human conduction system – which is responsible for generating a heartbeat – will provide detailed information to cardiologists, meaning that heart surgeries will be more informed.

‘High resolution 3-Dimensional imaging of the human cardiac conduction system from microanatomy to mathematical modelling’ was recently published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports by Robert Stephenson.

The paper was released in collaboration with a team of researchers from Liverpool John Moores University, University of Manchester and Newcastle University, UK.

Stephenson said: “We have generated the first 3D visualisation of the human conduction system; this has important implications for procedures in which cardiologists need to place a heart valve prosthesis just a few millimetres from the heart’s conduction system. These results show unprecedented details beyond those available using traditional methods.”

Further, the researchers emphasise that it is not only clinicians and their patients who will benefit from 3D visualisation, but also students learning about the cardiac conduction system and its relationship with heart anatomy and function.

Disrupted or disturbed activity in the conduction system can be caused by disease or injury, and consequently the heart could then operate at a marked increase or decreased pump function, and potentially irregular pumping patterns.

In the long term, these abnormal conditions can result in less effective blood circulation in the body, system clots, and arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation.

Professor Michael Pederson from the Comparative Medicine Lab, Department of Clinical Medicine, added: “Currently, the researchers have ‘only’ presented 3D data from a healthy human heart, but we will in future reveal the conduction system in diseased hearts, including those suffering from congenital heart diseases and in the aged population.”

The study is financially supported by Alder Hey Children’s Charity, Liverpool, through the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme and the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, alongside the British Heart Foundation.