Ultrasonic tissue characterization of the mouse myocardium: Successful in vivo cyclic variation measurements

Attila Kovacs, Michael R. Courtois, Carla J. Weinheimer, Stephanie H. Posdamer, Kirk D. Wallace, Mark R. Holland, James G. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background Measurements of the systematic variation of backscattered ultrasonic energy from myocardium during the heart cycle (cyclic variation) have been successfully used to characterize a wide spectrum of cardiac pathologies in large animal models and human subjects. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of extending cyclic variation measurements to the study of genetically manipulated mouse models of cardiac diseases as a method for developing further insights into the disease-altered properties of the myocardium and its characterization with ultrasound. Methods Parasternal long-axis images of the heart were obtained in 9 wild-type mice under light anesthesia using a commercial imaging system with a 15-MHz nominal center frequency linear array. Images of a tissue-mimicking phantom and the mouse hearts were obtained for a series of specific receiver gains for each of a series of specific dynamic range settings. Analyses of these data formed the basis for gray-scale image calibration. Cyclic variation measurements were obtained by determining the average gray-scale value for a region of interest placed in the midmyocardium of the posterior wall for each frame acquired during 4 cardiac cycles and converting these mean gray-scale values to backscatter values expressed in decibels using the determined calibration. Results are expressed in terms of the magnitude and time delay of cyclic variation. To evaluate repeatability of these measurements the same group of mice underwent the identical imaging protocol 2 weeks after the first study. Results The mean magnitude of cyclic variation was found to be 4.6 ± 0.2 dB with a corresponding normalized time delay of 1.02 ± 0.03 for data averaged over all dynamic range settings. There was no significant difference among results obtained with each of the dynamic range settings. A comparison of these results with those from data acquired 2 weeks after the initial study showed no significant difference. Conclusion This study represents the first reported measurement of cyclic variation in mice and demonstrates that reliable cyclic variation measurements can be obtained among individual animals and over different time points and, hence, forms the basis for subsequent investigations addressing specific cardiac pathologies and effects arising from myocardial anisotropy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)883-892
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Society of Echocardiography
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2004


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