From June 20 to 23, the Computer Assisted Radiology and Surgery conference (CARS 2018) will take place in Berlin. There scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Medical Image Computing MEVIS will show off their unique software that helps to fix cardiac valves.

MEVIS researcher Anja Hennemuth, professor at the Institute for Imaging Science and Computational Modeling in Cardiovascular Medicine (ICM), a new joint institute of Charité and the German Heart Center in Berlin. The team has developed a software system that supports surgeons in planning minimally invasive heart valve operations. One common procedure is to sew in a special ring to reduce the area that closes the heart valve. The goal is to stop the valve from leaking and to reduce the amount of blood that flows back into the atrium.

Using the imaging data gathered from patients MRI, CT or ultrasound scans, the experts can create a dynamic heart model. Then they can observe the heart valve during different phases of the heartbeat on their monitors.

In a second stage, the software simulates a procedure during which a ring is sewn into a virtual heart, thus correcting or reducing heart valve insufficiency. “Subsequently, the system simulates the procedure’s effect on the heart function,” explains Hennemuth. “We can assess how much easier the heart pumps now that the blood flows differently after inserting the ring.” The surgeons can simulate different variations of the procedure to identify the most effective option.

A prototype of the software is currently being validated and results are being compared to actual patient outcome information. The researchers use image data acquired before and after a procedure. Afterwards, they simulate the procedure and examine to what extent the simulation matches the real data. “So far, the results have been very good and the surgeons are satisfied,” says Hennemuth. She hopes to implement the new method into a medical device within a few years. In the future, the team aims to transfer the method to other types of heart procedures.

Source: The Fraunhofer Institute for Medical Image Computing MEVIS