OBJECTIVE: To investigate cardiac activation maps estimated using electrocardiographic imaging and to find methods reducing line-of-block (LoB) artifacts, while preserving real LoBs.
METHODS: Body surface potentials were computed for 137 simulated ventricular excitations. Subsequently, the inverse problem was solved to obtain extracellular potentials (EP) and transmembrane voltages (TMV). From these, activation times (AT) were estimated using four methods and compared to the ground truth. This process was evaluated with two cardiac mesh resolutions. Factors contributing to LoB artifacts were identified by analyzing the impact of spatial and temporal smoothing on the morphology of source signals.
RESULTS: AT estimation using a spatiotemporal derivative performed better than using a temporal derivative. Compared to deflection-based AT estimation, correlation-based methods were less prone to LoB artifacts but performed worse in identifying real LoBs. Temporal smoothing could eliminate artifacts for TMVs but not for EPs, which could be linked to their temporal morphology. TMVs led to more accurate ATs on the septum than EPs. Mesh resolution had a negligible effect on inverse reconstructions, but small distances were important for cross-correlation-based estimation of AT delays.
CONCLUSION: LoB artifacts are mainly caused by the inherent spatial smoothing effect of the inverse reconstruction. Among the configurations evaluated, only deflection-based AT estimation in combination with TMVs and strong temporal smoothing can prevent LoB artifacts, while preserving real LoBs.
SIGNIFICANCE: Regions of slow conduction are of considerable clinical interest and LoB artifacts observed in non-invasive ATs can lead to misinterpretations. We addressed this problem by identifying factors causing such artifacts and methods to reduce them.