Numerical Investigation of the Fetal Left Heart Hemodynamics During Gestational Stages
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Flow-driven hemodynamic forces on the cardiac tissues have critical importance, and have a significant role in the proper development of the heart. These mechanobiological mechanisms govern the cellular responses for the growth and remodeling of the heart, where the altered hemodynamic environment is believed to be a major factor that is leading to congenital heart defects (CHDs). In order to investigate the mechanobiological development of the normal and diseased hearts, identification of the blood flow patterns and wall shear stresses (WSS) on these tissues are required for an accurate hemodynamic assessment. In this study, we focus on the left heart hemodynamics of the human fetuses throughout the gestational stages. Computational fetal left heart models are created for the healthy fetuses using the ultrasound images at various gestational weeks. Realistic inflow boundary conditions are implemented in the models using the Doppler ultrasound measurements for resolving the specific blood flow waveforms in the mitral valve. Obtained results indicate that WSS and vorticity levels in the fetal left heart decrease with the development of the fetus. The maximum WSS around the mitral valve is determined around 36 Pa at the gestational week of 16. This maximum WSS decreases to 11 Pa at the gestational week of 27, indicating nearly three-times reduction in the peak shear stress. These findings reveal the highly dynamic nature of the left heart hemodynamics throughout the development of the human fetus and shed light into the relevance of hemodynamic environment and development of CHDs.
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