Re-creation of sinuses is important for sparing the aortic valve: a finite element study

K J Grande-Allen, R P Cochran, P G Reinhall, K S Kunzelman
Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery 2000, 119 (4): 753-63

OBJECTIVE: The treatment of choice for aortic valve insufficiency due to root dilatation has become root replacement with aortic valve sparing. However, root replacement with a synthetic graft may result in altered valve stresses. The purpose of this study was to compare the stress/strain patterns in the spared aortic valve in different root replacement procedures by means of finite element modeling.

METHODS: Our finite element model of the normal human root and valve was modified to simulate and evaluate three surgical techniques: (1) "cylindrical" graft sutured below the valve at the anulus, (2) "tailored" graft sutured just above the valve, and (3) "pseudosinus" graft, tailored and sutured below the valve at the anulus. Simulated diastolic pressures were applied, and stresses and strains were calculated for the valve, root, and graft. Leaflet coaptation was also quantified.

RESULTS: All three root replacement models demonstrated significantly altered leaflet stress patterns as compared with normal patterns. The cylindrical model showed the greatest increases in stress (16%-173%) and strain (10%-98%), followed by the tailored model (stress +10%-157%, strain +9%-36%). The pseudosinus model showed the smallest increase in stress (9%-28%) and strain (2%-31%), and leaflet coaptation was closest to normal.

CONCLUSION: Valve-sparing techniques that allow the potential for sinus space formation (tailored, pseudosinus) result in simulated leaflet stresses that are closer to normal than the cylindrical technique. Normalized leaflet stresses in the clinical setting may result in improved longevity of the spared valve.

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