eXCITING: X-ray Cardiac tissue Tomographic ImagiNG – PHRT


eXCITING: X-ray Cardiac tissue Tomographic ImagiNG

Short Summary

Cardiovascular diseases, leading cause of death in the world, are responsible of severe alteration of the complex cardiac muscle microstructure. In this PhD project, synchrotron X-ray Phase Contrast micro-tomography imaging (X-PCI) will be used to study the microscopic organization of human cardiac samples coming from healthy and unhealthy hearts. The objective is to develop the necessary tools to get a better understanding of individual cardiac remodelling and propose X-PCI as a complementary investigation technique.


The aim of our PhD project is to offer the non-destructive time-efficient high-resolution and 3 dimensional capabilities of X-PCI as an improvement of the current diagnosis in human corings or EMBs. Cardiac microstructure will be quantified at micrometre scale in 3D, without sample preparation further to the biopsy extraction nor the use of staining or contrast agents. Different cardiac remodeling processes will be documented, feeding an imaging database to help pathologists in their diagnosis. The potential offered by machine learning will be harnessed to reduce the human intervention in the analysis. Finally, the possibility to translate this technique to clinical imaging facilities will also be investigated.


Histopathology is the most common method to investigate the tissue microstructure. However, this technique requires time and expertise. A fast and accurate technique would therefore be beneficial to improve diagnosis and move towards more personalized treatment.


In the case of advanced heart failure, the most efficient therapeutic intervention implies heart surgery with either a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implantation or a cardiac transplantation (HTx). In the first case, a “coring” (i.e. removing) of the entire tissue of the apex of the heart in order to place the inflow cannula of the device is needed, thus providing a full thickness specimen of the diseased myocardium. For the regular follow-up of HTx patients (or for diagnosis), the established clinical practice is achieved via endomyocardial biopsies (EMB). The typical analysis procedure is done via histology in order to analyse the microstructure and to evaluate, for instance, the level of fibrosis in the cardiac tissue.


Dr. Anne Bonnin

Paul Scherrer Institut


In Progress

Funded by