Controlled Comparison of Simulated Hemodynamics Across Tricuspid and Bicuspid Aortic Valves

Ann Biomed Eng. 2022 Sep;50(9):1053-1072. doi: 10.1007/s10439-022-02983-4. Epub 2022 Jun 24.


Bicuspid aortic valve is the most common congenital heart defect, affecting 1-2% of the global population. Patients with bicuspid valves frequently develop dilation and aneurysms of the ascending aorta. Both hemodynamic and genetic factors are believed to contribute to dilation, yet the precise mechanism underlying this progression remains under debate. Controlled comparisons of hemodynamics in patients with different forms of bicuspid valve disease are challenging because of confounding factors, and simulations offer the opportunity for direct and systematic comparisons. Using fluid-structure interaction simulations, we simulate flows through multiple aortic valve models in a patient-specific geometry. The aortic geometry is based on a healthy patient with no known aortic or valvular disease, which allows us to isolate the hemodynamic consequences of changes to the valve alone. Four fully-passive, elastic model valves are studied: a tricuspid valve and bicuspid valves with fusion of the left- and right-, right- and non-, and non- and left-coronary cusps. The resulting tricuspid flow is relatively uniform, with little secondary or reverse flow, and little to no pressure gradient across the valve. The bicuspid cases show localized jets of forward flow, excess streamwise momentum, elevated secondary and reverse flow, and clinically significant levels of stenosis. Localized high flow rates correspond to locations of dilation observed in patients, with the location related to which valve cusps are fused. Thus, the simulations support the hypothesis that chronic exposure to high local flow contributes to localized dilation and aneurysm formation.

Keywords: Aortic aneurysm; Aortic valve modeling; Bicuspid aortic valve; Heart valve fluid–structure interaction; Immersed boundary method.

MeSH terms

  • Aorta
  • Aortic Valve
  • Bicuspid Aortic Valve Disease*
  • Heart Valve Diseases*
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans