Structural remodeling of human myocardial tissue after infarction. Quantification with ultrasonic backscatter.
BACKGROUND Remodeling of myocardial tissue after infarction may culminate in the development of either a well-healed scar or a thin, expanded heart wall segment that predisposes to ventricular aneurysm formation, congestive heart failure, or ventricular tachycardia. The three-dimensional architecture of mature human infarct tissue and the mechanisms that determine it have not been elucidated. We have previously shown that quantitative ultrasonic backscatter can be used to define the transmural organization of human myofibers in the normal ventricular wall by measuring the dependence of backscatter on the angle of insonification, or ultrasonic anisotropy. We propose that measurement of ultrasonic anisotropy of backscatter may permit quantitative characterization of the transmural architecture of tissue from areas of myocardial infarction and facilitate identification of fundamental mechanisms of remodeling of the ventricular wall.
METHODS AND RESULTS We measured integrated backscatter in 33 transmural sections from 12 cylindrical biopsy specimens (1.4-cm diameter) sampled from central regions of mature infarction in six explanted fixed human hearts. Tissue samples were insonified in two-degree steps around their entire circumference at successive transmural levels with a 5-MHz broad-band piezoelectric transducer. Backscatter radio frequency data were gated from the center of each specimen, and spectral analysis was performed on the gated radio frequency for the computation of integrated backscatter. Histological morphometric analysis was performed on each specimen for determination of the predominant fiber orientation and the percentage of tissue infarcted at consecutive transmural levels. The average percentage of tissue infarcted for all transmural levels was 49 +/- 3% (range, 13-80%). Histological attributes varied from patchy fibrosis to extensive confluent zones of scar tissue. The angle-averaged integrated backscatter for all transmural levels in infarct tissue was approximately 5 dB greater than that previously measured in normal tissue in our laboratory (-48.3 +/- 0.5 versus -53.4 +/- 0.4 dB, infarct versus normal). Marked anisotropy of backscatter was observed in tissue from areas of infarction and was characterized by a sinusoid-like dependence on the angle of insonification at each transmural level. Insonification perpendicular to infarct fibers yielded values for integrated backscatter 14.8 +/- 0.5 dB greater than those for insonification parallel to these fibers. Juxtaposition of the sinusoid-like anisotropy functions from all consecutive transmural levels demonstrated a progressive shift in the orientation of scar tissue elements from epicardial to endocardial levels of 14.6 +/- 1.5 degrees/mm of tissue. The transmural shift in fiber orientation per millimeter of tissue from the area of infarction exceeded that previously measured for normal tissue (9.2 +/- 0.7 degrees/mm) by 59%. This marked augmentation in angular shift per millimeter of tissue results from a generalized structural rearrangement (or reorientation) of fibers across the entire ventricular wall in the infarct zone that we hypothesize is determined in part by dynamic mechanical forces, imposed by the surrounding functional normal tissue, that tether the "infarcted" tissue.
CONCLUSIONS Myocardial tissue from areas of myocardial infarction manifests substantial anisotropy of ultrasonic scattering that may be useful for quantitative characterization of the alignment and overall three-dimensional anatomic organization of mature infarct scars.
- Copyright © 1992 by American Heart Association