Towards a Computational Framework for Modeling the Impact of Aortic Coarctations Upon Left Ventricular Load

Front Physiol. 2018 May 28;9:538. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2018.00538. eCollection 2018.


Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models of blood flow in the left ventricle (LV) and aorta are important tools for analyzing the mechanistic links between myocardial deformation and flow patterns. Typically, the use of image-based kinematic CFD models prevails in applications such as predicting the acute response to interventions which alter LV afterload conditions. However, such models are limited in their ability to analyze any impacts upon LV load or key biomarkers known to be implicated in driving remodeling processes as LV function is not accounted for in a mechanistic sense. This study addresses these limitations by reporting on progress made toward a novel electro-mechano-fluidic (EMF) model that represents the entire physics of LV electromechanics (EM) based on first principles. A biophysically detailed finite element (FE) model of LV EM was coupled with a FE-based CFD solver for moving domains using an arbitrary Eulerian-Lagrangian (ALE) formulation. Two clinical cases of patients suffering from aortic coarctations (CoA) were built and parameterized based on clinical data under pre-treatment conditions. For one patient case simulations under post-treatment conditions after geometric repair of CoA by a virtual stenting procedure were compared against pre-treatment results. Numerical stability of the approach was demonstrated by analyzing mesh quality and solver performance under the significantly large deformations of the LV blood pool. Further, computational tractability and compatibility with clinical time scales were investigated by performing strong scaling benchmarks up to 1536 compute cores. The overall cost of the entire workflow for building, fitting and executing EMF simulations was comparable to those reported for image-based kinematic models, suggesting that EMF models show potential of evolving into a viable clinical research tool.

Keywords: arbitrary Lagrangian-Eulerian formulation; cardiac mechanics; computational fluid dynamics; finite element model; patient-specific modeling; total heart function; translational cardiac modeling.