Above: An idealised model of a stent, shown in an elastic artery (b), and its effect on velocity vectors close to the stent struts (a).
Physical simulations, which take three-dimensional models and apply physical laws to the movements of tissues and the fluids within them, have the objective of accurately reflecting the behaviour of a living tissue. The three-dimensional models used and developed at Sheffield are increasingly derived from real patients, through medical imaging techniques.
Further, modern imaging techniques available at Sheffield allow us to monitor how tissues change over time – so we are able to accurately reflect how an artery behaves as the heart beats, or how the lungs and surrounding tissues move as the patient breathes.
If accurate enough, this sort of modelling can help us understand how a tissue works, for example how shear and turbulence in the blood flow through an artery may contribute to arterial deterioration – this can be extended to evaluate how a stent placed in an artery may modify the flow of blood, and contribute to restenosis.
Ventricular fibrillation (VF) is a catastrophic and life threatening cardiac arrhythmia that accounts for at least 60,000 deaths in the UK each year. Although it has important social and economic consequences, it remains difficult to either predict or prevent VF. Experimental studies are difficult, and our understanding of the mechanisms that initiate and sustain VF remains poor.
In Sheffield we are using computational models of cardiac tissue to understand how VF can be initiated and sustained.