Computational fluid dynamics of developing avian outflow tract heart valves

Ann Biomed Eng. 2012 Oct;40(10):2212-27. doi: 10.1007/s10439-012-0574-8. Epub 2012 Apr 26.


Hemodynamic forces play an important role in sculpting the embryonic heart and its valves. Alteration of blood flow patterns through the hearts of embryonic animal models lead to malformations that resemble some clinical congenital heart defects, but the precise mechanisms are poorly understood. Quantitative understanding of the local fluid forces acting in the heart has been elusive because of the extremely small and rapidly changing anatomy. In this study, we combine multiple imaging modalities with computational simulation to rigorously quantify the hemodynamic environment within the developing outflow tract (OFT) and its eventual aortic and pulmonary valves. In vivo Doppler ultrasound generated velocity profiles were applied to Micro-Computed Tomography generated 3D OFT lumen geometries from Hamburger-Hamilton (HH) stage 16-30 chick embryos. Computational fluid dynamics simulation initial conditions were iterated until local flow profiles converged with in vivo Doppler flow measurements. Results suggested that flow in the early tubular OFT (HH16 and HH23) was best approximated by Poiseuille flow, while later embryonic OFT septation (HH27, HH30) was mimicked by plug flow conditions. Peak wall shear stress (WSS) values increased from 18.16 dynes/cm(2) at HH16 to 671.24 dynes/cm(2) at HH30. Spatiotemporally averaged WSS values also showed a monotonic increase from 3.03 dynes/cm(2) at HH16 to 136.50 dynes/cm(2) at HH30. Simulated velocity streamlines in the early heart suggest a lack of mixing, which differed from classical ink injections. Changes in local flow patterns preceded and correlated with key morphogenetic events such as OFT septation and valve formation. This novel method to quantify local dynamic hemodynamics parameters affords insight into sculpting role of blood flow in the embryonic heart and provides a quantitative baseline dataset for future research.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aorta / embryology*
  • Blood Flow Velocity / physiology
  • Chick Embryo
  • Chickens
  • Models, Cardiovascular*
  • Pulmonary Valve / embryology*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed