Functional Imaging of the Heart

Ultrasound is the most common imaging tool used when clinicians perform quantitative measurements of cardiac function. It is fast, cheap, simple to use and has a high temporal resolution (frame-rate), which is crucial when imaging the heart as it deforms and moves constantly. Further development is needed however in order to improve the reliability and accuracy of measurements, as well as in introducing methods that can measure other clinically significant parameters non-invasively.

In our lab, we develop and test 2-D and 3-D ultrasound imaging techniques for the assessment of cardiac function. Our focus is on algorithms and methods that process the (raw) ultrasound data to produce measurements that are needed in the clinic, and on methods to validate these measurements. Current methods for the validation of measurement techniques are the ex-vivo beating heart experiments (LifeTec Group), mock-loops and in-silico simulations. We also collaborate with clinical (AMC, MMC, CZE) and industry (Esaote) partners to ensure continued applicability to the clinic.

A method currently under development is ultrasound strain imaging. This is a relatively new technique that is still making its way into the clinic. Speckle tracking echocardiography is a similar method that has been available commercially for a number of years, but often shows inconsistent results and can suffer from over regularisation. Cardiac strain imaging on the other hand allows measurement of strain at a local level, and can therefore show important regional information such as dyssynchrony or myocardial infarctions.

Recent work by now-PhD candidate Niels Petterson during his MSc showed the efficacy of the ex-vivo heart setup for performance assessment of strain imaging in controlled and reproducible circumstances for healthy hearts. This has been extended by fellow PhD Louis Fixsen into the assessment of heart function in unhealthy hearts, such as those implanted with a left-ventricular assist devices (LVAD) and with reduced function.


Projects for bachelor-end projects, internships and MSc projects are available.

  • New algorithms for high precision displacement and strain estimation
  • FE-based regularization of strain imaging data 
  • Personalization of FE models of the heart using 2-D and 3-D ultrasound motion and deformation imaging
  • Cardiac strain imaging in the assisted left ventricle 
  • US simulations for validation of strain imaging techniques
  • Ex vivo experiments (IPH) for verification of strain imaging of hearts with different condition or pathology

Other projects can be designed in consultation with the supervisors (Louis Fixsen, Richard Lopata)

Students working on this project:Louis Fixsen (PhD student), Larissa Jansen (MSc project)
Completed MSc projects:Niels Petterson, Anne Saris