Using ultrasound imaging, Marek Belohlavek, M.D., Ph.D., studies cardiovascular morphology and function under various loading or disease conditions, and uses computational fluid dynamics methods to evaluate intracardiac blood flow, including velocity vector fields.
The main goal is to characterize with state-of-the-art cardiac ultrasound (echocardiography) early stages of cardiovascular disease and translate the findings to clinical practice.
Dr. Belohlavek's research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and American Heart Association, among other organizations.
- What are the changes in structural composition of the cardiac muscle in response to ischemia and reperfusion? The main goal is to develop echocardiographic methods based on analysis of changes in integrated backscatter to identify, for example, reperfusion injury and its extent.
- How exactly does blood flow through cardiac valves and chambers, and how can we optimize cardiac performance? Using echocardiographic particle imaging velocimetry and computational fluid dynamics methods, Dr. Belohlavek's team studies patterns of intracardiac blood flow (jets, vortices) under various hemodynamic conditions to characterize tissue-flow interactions and develop diagnostic methods for analysis and optimization of intracardiac blood transport efficiency.
- Can we guide catheters inside the heart or other organs by noninvasive ultrasound imaging? Another focal point of the work of Dr. Belohlavek's team is development of an acoustically active intracardiac catheter. This work aims to use ultrasonography as a widely available imaging method for the guidance of minimally invasive procedures, in which the acoustically active catheter becomes uniquely and reliably identifiable in ultrasound scans.
- How can we further advance quantitative evaluation of complex cardiac function? In clinical settings, Dr. Belohlavek and his group participate in advanced analyses of cardiac muscle function, including measurements of velocity, strain, strain rate, twist and torsion, to better understand cardiac mechanical response to disease and impaired hemodynamic conditions.
Significance to patient care
Ultrasound imaging is a rapidly evolving noninvasive and broadly available imaging method. Dr. Belohlavek's research contributes to advancements in diagnostic ultrasound methods with ultimate goals of detecting cardiovascular disease in early (optimally presymptomatic or reversible) stages and optimizing therapeutic management of existing disease, thus improving its prognosis.