Heart failure is one of our most severe common diseases, where progression of the disease to advanced heart failure leads to low prognosis and few treatment options. Although treatment development in the early stages of heart failure is crucial, alternatives must exist and be developed even for the most severely ill patients. Mechanical heart pumps are, alongside heart transplantation, the final treatment step for advanced heart failure. Historically, mechanical circulatory support has been a treatment while waiting for a heart transplant, but the newest pumps used in clinical practice are now approved for lifelong treatment, which may provide an answer to the shortage of organs in heart transplantation operations.
However, despite recent technological advancements in the area, serious complications remain, such as blood clot formation, valve leakage, or impaired right ventricular function during the therapy. Limited previous research exists on whether advanced medical imaging techniques can contribute to a better understanding of the cardiac impact during the therapy. Computed tomography (CT) can produce high-quality and time-resolved images of the heart, enabling analysis of both geometry, wall motion, and calculated blood flow. However, until recently, metal artifacts made CT a challenging modality for examining patients with mechanical heart pumps.
Exciting enough, the introduction of photon-counting CT now allows for examinations with reduced metal artifacts, and the overall aim of my research is thus to use this new CT technology to examine the inner geometry, motion, and blood flow of the heart during treatment with mechanical heart pumps. This mapping is expected to enhance current understanding of the treatment and contribute to future development of clinical practice and higher-quality patient care.