A finite element approach for modeling micro-structural discontinuities in the heart

Annu Int Conf IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2011;2011:437-40. doi: 10.1109/IEMBS.2011.6090059.


The presence of connective tissue as well as interstitial clefts forms a natural barrier to the electrical propagation in the heart. At a microscopic scale, such uncoupling structures change the pattern of the electrical conduction from uniform towards complex and may play a role in the genesis of cardiac arrhythmias. The anatomical diversity of conduction structures and their topology at a microscopic size scale is overwhelming for experimental techniques. Mathematical models have been often employed to study the behavior of the electrical propagation at a sub-cellular level. However, very fine and computationally expensive meshes are required to capture all microscopic details found in the cardiac tissue. In this work, we present a numerical technique based on the finite element method which allows to reproduce the effects of microscopic conduction barriers caused by the presence of uncoupling structures without actually resolving these structures in a high resolution mesh, thereby reducing the computational costs significantly.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Computer Simulation
  • Finite Element Analysis
  • Heart Conduction System / cytology*
  • Heart Conduction System / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Anatomic*
  • Models, Cardiovascular*
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / cytology*
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / physiology*