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Med Phys. 2010 Dec;37(12):6377-89.

Three-dimensional tracking of cardiac catheters using an inverse geometry x-ray fluoroscopy system.

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Department of Medical Physics, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin 53705, USA.



Scanning beam digital x-ray (SBDX) is an inverse geometry fluoroscopic system with high dose efficiency and the ability to perform continuous real-time tomosynthesis at multiple planes. This study describes a tomosynthesis-based method for 3D tracking of high-contrast objects and present the first experimental investigation of cardiac catheter tracking using a prototype SBDX system.


The 3D tracking algorithm utilizes the stack of regularly spaced tomosynthetic planes that are generated by SBDX after each frame period (15 frames/s). Gradient-filtered versions of the image planes are generated, the filtered images are segmented into object regions, and then a 3D coordinate is calculated for each object region. Two phantom studies of tracking performance were conducted. In the first study, an ablation catheter in a chest phantom was imaged as it was pulled along a 3D trajectory defined by a catheter sheath (10, 25, and 50 mm/s pullback speeds). SBDX tip tracking coordinates were compared to the 3D trajectory of the sheath as determined from a CT scan of the phantom after the registration of the SBDX and CT coordinate systems. In the second study, frame-to-frame tracking precision was measured for six different catheter configurations as a function of image noise level (662-7625 photons/mm2 mean detected x-ray fluence at isocenter).


During catheter pullbacks, the 3D distance between the tracked catheter tip and the sheath centerline was 1.0 +/- 0.8 mm (mean +/- one standard deviation). The electrode to centerline distances were comparable to the diameter of the catheter tip (2.3 mm), the confining sheath (4 mm outside diameter), and the estimated SBDX-to-CT registration error (+/- 0.7 mm). The tip position was localized for all 332 image frames analyzed and 83% of tracked positions were inside the 3D sheath volume derived from CT. The pullback speeds derived from the catheter trajectories were within 5% of the programed pullback speeds. The tracking precision of ablation and diagnostic catheter tips ranged from +/- 0.2 mm at the highest image fluence to +/- 0.9 mm at the lowest fluence. Tracking precision depended on image fluence, the size of the tracked catheter electrode, and the contrast of the electrode.


High speed multiplanar tomosynthesis with an inverse geometry x-ray fluoroscopy system enables 3D tracking of multiple high-contrast objects at the rate of fluoroscopic imaging. The SBDX system is capable of tracking electrodes in standard cardiac catheters with approximately 1 mm accuracy and precision.

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