Researchers use modeling technique to give heart patients customized care

Engineers at the University of Texas at Austin created a computational modeling technique for simulating repairs to the heart's mitral valve that allows surgeons to provide patient-specific treatments.

The research team outlined its computational modeling technique for imaging mitral valve leaflets (flaps on the base of the valve that regulate blood flow) in the International Journal for Numerical Methods in Biomedical Engineering and the Annals of Biomedical Engineering.

The mitral valve plays a key role in maintaining healthy blood flow in the heart, but normal function can be compromised in several ways. Until this technique was developed, there had been a lack of accurate modeling approaches available for surgeons to predict the best surgical methods to restore mitral valve function.

The researchers' models combined the complete 3D geometry of the mitral valve in its open and closed states, allowing for a highly accurate prediction of postsurgical outcomes based on the individual patient.

"Heart valves are very difficult to study. They are complex structures that move incredibly fast and are located inside the heart, making them extremely difficult to image," said lead researcher Michael Sacks, PhD. "Our new computational model provides surgeons with a tool for the prediction of postsurgical outcomes from clinically obtained presurgical data alone."

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