Radiation imaging physics
Monitoring cardiac motion in CT using a continuous wave radar embedded in the patient table
To avoid motion artifacts, medical imaging devices are often synchronized with the patient's cardiac motion. Today, the ECG is used to determine the heartbeat and therewith trigger the imaging device. However, the ECG requires additional effort to prepare the patient, e.g., mount and wire electrodes and it is not able to determine the motion of the heart. An interesting alternative to assess the cardiac motion is continuous wave radar. The aim of this work is to evaluate such a radar system focusing on measuring the cardiac motion.
A radar system operating in the 860 MHz band is used. In the intended application of the radar system, the antennas are located close to the patient's body, for example, inside the table of a CT system. The radar waves propagate into the patient's body and are reflected at tissue boundaries, for example, at the borderline between muscle and adipose tissue, or at the boundaries of organs. Here, the authors focus on the detection of cardiac motion. The radar system consists of hardware as well as of dedicated signal processing software to extract the desired information from the radar signals. The radar system hardware and the signal processing algorithms were tested with data from ten volunteers. As a reference, the ECG was recorded simultaneously with the radar measurements. Additionally, ultrasound measurements are performed and compared with the motion information from the radar data.
According to the authors’ measurements on volunteers (test persons), the heartbeat and heart rate can be detected well using the proposed radar system. The authors were further able to extract the amplitude and phase of the heart motion itself from the radar data. This was confirmed by the ultrasound measurements. However, this motion assessment is dependent on the antenna position and it remains unclear which antenna sees the motion that is the most relevant to CT imaging.
A continuous wave radar operating in the near field of the antennas can be used to determine the heartbeat and the cardiac motion of humans without special patient preparation. The authors’ radar system is very close to the patient because it is embedded in the patient table, but it has no direct contact to the patient or to the patient skin (as it would be necessary to acquire the ECG of the patient). Therefore, radar motion monitoring does not require special patient preparation. In contrast to other methods used today, this is a significant improvement. The authors’ radar system may allow to trigger a CT scan in dependency of the cardiac phase, without requiring an ECG, and it allows to determine quiet, and thus favorable, heart phases prior to the scan start.