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Development of a three-dimensional computer model of the equine heart using a polyurethane casting technique and in vivo contrast-enhanced computed tomography

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

Introduction/objectives: Insight into the three-dimensional (3D) anatomy of the equine heart is essential in veterinary education and to develop minimally-invasive intracardiac procedures. The aim was to create a 3D computer model simulating the in vivo anatomy of the adult equine heart. Animals: Ten horses and five ponies. Materials and Methods: Ten horses, euthanized for non-cardiovascular reasons, were used for in situ cardiac casting with polyurethane foam and subsequent computed tomography (CT) of the excised heart. In five anaesthetized ponies, a contrast-enhanced ECG-gated CT protocol was optimized to image the entire heart. Dedicated image processing software was used to create 3D models of all CT scans derived from both methods. Resulting models were compared regarding relative proportions, detail, and ease of segmentation. Results: The casting protocol produced high detail but compliant structures, such as the pulmonary trunk, were disproportionally expanded by the foam. Optimization of the contrast-enhanced CT protocol, especially adding a delayed phase for visualization of the cardiac veins, resulted in sufficiently detailed CT images to create an anatomically correct 3D model of the pony heart. Rescaling was needed to obtain a horse-sized model. Conclusions: Three-dimensional computer models based on contrast-enhanced CT images appeared superior to those based on casted hearts to represent the in vivo situation and are preferred to obtain an anatomically correct heart model useful for education, client communication and research purposes. Scaling was however necessary to obtain an approximation of an adult horse heart, as cardiac CT imaging is restricted by thoracic size.
ISSN: 1875-0834
Volume: 51
Pages: 72 - 85
Publication year:2024