Imaging and Outcomes

The imaging and outcomes team in the Todd and Karen Wanek Family Program for HLHS at Mayo Clinic uses advanced imaging to improve diagnostic and predictive factors for HLHS.

Long-term objective

The team's primary goal is to improve doctors' ability to noninvasively determine the function of the right chamber of the heart in HLHS and other complex forms of congenital heart disease where the right ventricle is required to support the entirety of the body's circulation.

Clinicians and scientists work together to better understand the natural history and predictors of long-term right ventricular performance in people with HLHS. Research is focused on improving how cardiac performance is assessed so that declines in cardiac function can be detected — and managed — as early as possible.

Investigative strategy

To improve HLHS imaging and outcomes, clinicians and researchers study how patients' medical histories, the medical histories of patients' families, and ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of patients' hearts relate to one another — and how they can be used to predict whether a specific patient will need a heart transplant.

Research topics studied by the imaging and outcomes team in the Todd and Karen Wanek Family Program for HLHS at Mayo Clinic include:

  • A detailed HLHS digital database. The program's imaging and outcomes team has created a database connecting clinical information to imaging data. The database helps researchers discover predictors of the right heart chamber's performance. The database includes comprehensive descriptions of each patient's:
    • Heart structure
    • Clinical and surgical history
    • Clinical information at the time of study
    • Results of echocardiography and cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (cMRI) scans
    • Detailed genetic and heart muscle stem cell profiles, as obtained through studies by the program's human genetics and regenerative medicine teams.
  • Cardiac images. To determine the how well the right side of the heart is performing, doctors and researchers capture images of the heart with echocardiographic examinations and cMRI scans. Researchers enter the images into the HLHS digital database to decide the best noninvasive approach for repetitive assessment of the heart's performance.
  • Frequency of heart defects in relatives. Evidence suggests that relatives of people with HLHS may be at increased risk of having heart disease. Researchers perform standard echocardiograms to determine the frequency of undiagnosed congenital heart disease in patients' family members.
  • Linking images with genetics. After gathering imaging and clinical information from people with HLHS, researchers correlate the collected data with individuals' genetic profiles and the characteristics of their patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiac myocytes.

All of the findings from imaging studies are made available to patients and their home cardiologists.