Development of a Functionally Equivalent Model of the Mitral Valve Chordae Tendineae Through Topology Optimization

Ischemic mitral regurgitation (IMR) is a currently prevalent disease in the US that is projected to become increasingly common as the aging population grows. In recent years, image-based simulations of mitral valve (MV) function have improved significantly, providing new tools to seek refinements to IMR treatment. However, clinical implementation of MV simulations has been hindered by the fact that in vivo MV chordae tendineae (MVCT) geometry cannot be captured with sufficient fidelity for computational modeling. In the current study, we addressed this challenge by developing a method to produce functionally equivalent MVCT models that can be built from the MV leaflet geometry alone, derived from imaging data. We began our analysis using extant micron-resolution 3D imaging datasets to first build anatomically accurate MV models. We then systematically simplified the native MVCT structure to generate a series of synthetic models by consecutively removing key anatomic features, such as the thickness variations, branching patterns, and chordal origin distributions. In addition, through topology optimization, we identified the minimal structural complexity required to capture the native MVCT behavior. To assess the performance and predictive power of each synthetic model, we analyzed their performance by comparing the mismatch in simulated MV closed shape, as well as the strain and stress tensors, to ground-truth MV models. Interestingly, our results revealed a substantial redundancy in the anatomic structure of native chordal anatomy. We showed that the closing behavior of complete MV apparatus under normal, diseased, and surgically repaired scenarios can be faithfully replicated by a functionally equivalent MVCT model comprised of two representative papillary muscle heads, single strand chords, and a uniform insertion distribution with a density of 15 insertions/cm2. Hence, even though the complete sub-valvular structure is mostly missing in in vivo MV images, we believe our approach will allow for the development of patient-specific complete MV models for surgical repair planning.