On average, the human heart beats 115,200 times per day. In reality, however, no human heart is “average.” So, when surgery is needed, success often depends on surgeons’ ability to understand and adapt to each patient’s unique anatomy.
When disease hits the aortic valve, replacement is critical: without it, 50% of sufferers survive, on average, only two years from the onset of symptoms. For elderly patients and those who are extremely ill, traditional open-heart surgery is not an option. For them, transcatheter aortic valve implementation (TAVI) offers a less invasive approach. But the procedure, which involves inserting a catheter through an artery and threading it into the heart, still carries risks— including stroke, reduced blood flow or leakage if the implant fails to seal.
Matthieu De Beule and his team at Belgian-based FEops set out to make TAVI safer and improve patient outcomes. Using advanced 3D simulation technology, the team creates realistic, scientifically accurate models of stent-supported heart valve function before, during and after the procedure, enabling medical device companies to improve the design, safety and efficacy of their devices by tailoring the procedure planning to individual patients.
FEops HEARTguide uses advanced computational modeling to provide clinicians and valve manufacturers with pre-operative insights into the interaction between valve and specific patient anatomy. It surpasses simple anatomical measurement, generating accurate predictions of how devices will interact with each unique patient, pre-operatively.
“Now you can gain greater insight into how these devices are deployed into an individual’s anatomy,” De Beule said. “The simulations can then predict the behavior of replacement valves during transcatheter delivery, implementation and even after new-valve function begins in a patient’s body.”
Continuing software innovation promises the ability to create near-real-time simulations in the next few years. In anticipation of these improvements, FEops has developed models for other heart valve replacement procedures and is gathering clinical evidence to show the added value to physicians and medical device manufacturers on a worldwide scale.
“With simulation you can gather so much more accurate information than using strictly anatomical measurements,” De Beule said. “We are convinced that this technology and a personalized approach can not only be applied to additional cardiac devices, but our simulation framework can also help medical device designers consider a variety of new cardiovascular products in realistic and validated patient anatomies early on in the preclinical state of development, paving the way for virtual clinical trials.”