Extend the Finite-Element Human Heart Model to Simulate Abnormal Functioning of the Heart



Biological Significances:  

Diagnostic imaging techniques can play a vital role in reducing the mortality rate and strain on the health care system caused by cardiovascular disease (CVD) by providing more efficient methods to screen and manage cardiac patients. As new methods emerge in response to cardiac disease, a major challenge is how to evaluate which technique is best in terms of patient diagnosis and treatment, and how different techniques may fit together to form a complete patient management strategy.

Project Summary:

Computer-based simulation is widely used to evaluate and improve medical imaging devices and procedures. These techniques involve computer-generated phantoms that define patient anatomy and physiology and models of the imaging process. Given a model of the imaging process, imaging data of a computer phantom can be simulated as if it were an actual patient. Foremost among these phantoms is the 4D extended Cardiac Torso (XCAT) phantom. The XCAT consists of whole-body adult male and female models, which contain an unmatched level of detail and anatomical realism. When combined with accurate models of the imaging process, MRI, and ultrasound, the XCAT can produce realistic image data. For the XCAT to be truly useful in the evaluation of emerging 4D cardiac imaging methods, though, it must accurately simulate normal and abnormal cardiac functions typically found in the clinical setting. The goal of this project is to extend the finite-element human heart model to simulate the abnormal functioning of heart due to CVD and integrate these abilities into the XCAT phantom. Continuity remains an integral part of our research. Our research led to the development of the “extraordinary nodes” for high-order Hermite elements in Continuity and atlas-based semi-automated methods for patient-specific geometry generation.


Key Outcomes:

  • Gonzales MJ, Sturgeon G, Krishnamurthy A, Hake J, Jonas R, Stark P, Rappel WJ, Narayan SM, Zhang Y, Segars WP, McCulloch AD. A three-dimensional finite element model of human atrial anatomy: new methods for cubic Hermite meshes with extraordinary vertices. Med Image Anal. 2013;17(5):525-37. doi: 10.1016/j.media.2013.03.005.