Objective. This study was designed to validate a slow-sweep real-time 4-dimensional (4D) spatiotemporal image correlation method for producing quantitatively accurate dynamic fetal heart images using an in vitro pulsatile balloon model and apparatus. Methods. To model fetal heart chambers, asymmetric double-walled finger stalls (tips of surgical latex gloves) were used and attached to a laboratory-designed circuit that allowed calibrated changes in the inner balloon volume as well as an intermediate gel mass interposed between the 2 layers. The water-submerged model was attached to a small-volume pulsatile pump to produce phasic changes in volume within the inner balloon at a fixed rate. A sonography system with 4D spatiotemporal image correlation (STIC) capabilities was used for 3-dimensional (3D) and 4D data acquisition. Volume data were analyzed by customized radial summation techniques with 4D data analysis software and compared with known volumes and masses. Results. Fifty-six individual volumes ranging from 2.5 to 10 mL were analyzed. Volume and mass measurements with 4D STIC were highly correlated (R2 > 0.90). The mean percentage error was better (<6%) for volumes exceeding 4 mL and was as low as 0.3% for 6-mL estimations. Measurements in the diastolic phase were the most accurate, followed by mass estimations equivalent to chamber walls. There was a wider range of percentage error in the lowest volumes tested (2.5 mL), which might have arisen from difficulties in spatial resolution or distortions from within the model apparatus itself. Resolution limitations of 4D technology in combination with extremely small volume targets may explain higher error rates at these small volumes. Conclusions. Four-dimensional STIC is an acceptably accurate method for volume and mass estimations in the ranges comparable with mid- and late-gestation fetal hearts. It is particularly accurate for diastolic estimations, for chamber wall mass measurements, and at volumes of greater than 2.5 mL. This study validates use of 4D STIC technology to overcome the limitations of nongated 3D technology for phasic and quantitative assessments in fetal echocardiography.
- 3-dimensional echocardiography
- 4-dimensional echocardiography
- Fetal echocardiography
- Spatiotemporal image correlation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging