Development of a model of the coronary arterial tree for the 4D XCAT phantom
A detailed three-dimensional (3D) model of the coronary artery tree with cardiac motion has great potential for applications in a wide variety of medical imaging research areas. In this work, we first developed a computer-generated 3D model of the coronary arterial tree for the heart in the extended cardiac-torso (XCAT) phantom, thereby creating a realistic computer model of the human anatomy. The coronary arterial tree model was based on two datasets: (1) a gated cardiac dual-source computed tomography (CT) angiographic dataset obtained from a normal human subject and (2) statistical morphometric data of porcine hearts. The initial proximal segments of the vasculature and the anatomical details of the boundaries of the ventricles were defined by segmenting the CT data. An iterative rule-based generation method was developed and applied to extend the coronary arterial tree beyond the initial proximal segments. The algorithm was governed by three factors: (1) statistical morphometric measurements of the connectivity, lengths and diameters of the arterial segments; (2) avoidance forces from other vessel segments and the boundaries of the myocardium, and (3) optimality principles which minimize the drag force at the bifurcations of the generated tree. Using this algorithm, the 3D computational model of the largest six orders of the coronary arterial tree was generated, which spread across the myocardium of the left and right ventricles. The 3D coronary arterial tree model was then extended to 4D to simulate different cardiac phases by deforming the original 3D model according to the motion vector map of the 4D cardiac model of the XCAT phantom at the corresponding phases. As a result, a detailed and realistic 4D model of the coronary arterial tree was developed for the XCAT phantom by imposing constraints of anatomical and physiological characteristics of the coronary vasculature. This new 4D coronary artery tree model provides a unique simulation tool that can be used in the development and evaluation of instrumentation and methods for imaging normal and pathological hearts with myocardial perfusion defects.