Multi-Domain Variational Autoencoders for Combined Modeling of MRI-Based Biventricular Anatomy and ECG-Based Cardiac Electrophysiology.
Beetz M., Banerjee A., Grau V.
Human cardiac function is characterized by a complex interplay of mechanical deformation and electrophysiological conduction. Similar to the underlying cardiac anatomy, these interconnected physiological patterns vary considerably across the human population with important implications for the effectiveness of clinical decision-making and the accuracy of computerized heart models. While many previous works have investigated this variability separately for either cardiac anatomy or physiology, this work aims to combine both aspects in a single data-driven approach and capture their intricate interdependencies in a multi-domain setting. To this end, we propose a novel multi-domain Variational Autoencoder (VAE) network to capture combined Electrocardiogram (ECG) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)-based 3D anatomy information in a single model. Each VAE branch is specifically designed to address the particular challenges of the respective input domain, enabling efficient encoding, reconstruction, and synthesis of multi-domain cardiac signals. Our method achieves high reconstruction accuracy on a United Kingdom Biobank dataset, with Chamfer Distances between reconstructed and input anatomies below the underlying image resolution and ECG reconstructions outperforming multiple single-domain benchmarks by a considerable margin. The proposed VAE is capable of generating realistic virtual populations of arbitrary size with good alignment in clinical metrics between the synthesized and gold standard anatomies and Maximum Mean Discrepancy (MMD) scores of generated ECGs below those of comparable single-domain approaches. Furthermore, we observe the latent space of our VAE to be highly interpretable with separate components encoding different aspects of anatomical and ECG variability. Finally, we demonstrate that the combined anatomy and ECG representation improves the performance in a cardiac disease classification task by 3.9% in terms of Area Under the Receiver Operating Characteristic (AUROC) curve over the best corresponding single-domain modeling approach.