Heart valve defects or diseases can be very serious, often requiring valve replacement. Traditional synthetic heart valves can calcify or wear over time and the surgeries required can carry high risk and be very invasive. To address these drawbacks, researchers are developing tissue-engineered heart valves which can be inserted orthoscopically. These tissue-engineered heart valves have the potential to make compatible and effective replacements, but they are currently not strong enough to survive the high pressures found on the aortic side of the heart. To strengthen the valves, the tissue is grown around a textile reinforcement: too little reinforcement and the valve tears, too much and it does not function correctly. This presentation, by UMass Lowell Professor Scott Stapleton of mechanical engineering, will summarize efforts to computationally model the hierarchical heart valve structure, with the intent of designing and optimizing textile reinforcement to strengthen the valve while maintaining its proper function.
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