Dynamic simulation pericardial bioprosthetic heart valve function

Hyunggun Kim, Jia Lu, Michael S Sacks, Krishnan B Chandran
Journal of Biomechanical Engineering 2006, 128 (5): 717-24
While providing nearly trouble-free function for 10-12 years, current bioprosthetic heart valves (BHV) continue to suffer from limited long-term durability. This is usually a result of leaflet calcification and/or structural degeneration, which may be related to regions of stress concentration associated with complex leaflet deformations. In the current work, a dynamic three-dimensional finite element analysis of a pericardial BHV was performed with a recently developed FE implementation of the generalized nonlinear anisotropic Fung-type elastic constitutive model for pericardial BHV tissues (W. Sun and M.S. Sacks, 2005, [Biomech. Model. Mechanobiol., 4(2-3), pp. 190-199]). The pericardial BHV was subjected to time-varying physiological pressure loading to compute the deformation and stress distribution during the opening phase of the valve function. A dynamic sequence of the displacements revealed that the free edge of the leaflet reached the fully open position earlier and the belly region followed. Asymmetry was observed in the resulting displacement and stress distribution due to the fiber direction and the anisotropic characteristics of the Fung-type elastic constitutive material model. The computed stress distribution indicated relatively high magnitudes near the free edge of the leaflet with local bending deformation and subsequently at the leaflet attachment boundary. The maximum computed von Mises stress during the opening phase was 33.8 kPa. The dynamic analysis indicated that the free edge regions of the leaflets were subjected to significant flexural deformation that may potentially lead to structural degeneration after millions of cycles of valve function. The regions subjected to time varying flexural deformation and high stresses of the present study also correspond to regions of tissue valve calcification and structural failure reported from explanted valves. In addition, the present simulation also demonstrated the importance of including the bending component together with the in-plane material behavior of the leaflets towards physiologically realistic deformation of the leaflets. Dynamic simulations with experimentally determined leaflet material specification can be potentially used to modify the valve towards an optimal design to minimize regions of stress concentration and structural failure.

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