KEYWORDS: Heart, Optical coherence tomography, 3D image processing, Imaging systems, Velocity measurements, 3D metrology, System integration, Electrophysiology, Image segmentation, Signal to noise ratio
Optical mapping (OM) of cardiac electrical activity conventionally collects information from a three-dimensional (3-D) surface as a two-dimensional (2-D) projection map. When applied to measurements of the embryonic heart, this method ignores the substantial and complex curvature of the heart surface, resulting in significant errors when calculating conduction velocity, an important electrophysiological parameter. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is capable of imaging the 3-D structure of the embryonic heart and accurately characterizing the surface topology. We demonstrate an integrated OCT/OM imaging system capable of simultaneous conduction mapping and 3-D structural imaging. From these multimodal data, we obtained 3-D activation maps and corrected conduction velocity maps of early embryonic quail hearts. 3-D correction eliminates underestimation bias in 2-D conduction velocity measurements, therefore enabling more accurate measurements with less experimental variability. The integrated system will also open the door to correlate the structure and electrophysiology, thereby improving our understanding of heart development.