TAVR Simulation

Background. Successful transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) requires an understanding of how a prosthetic valve will interact with a patient’s anatomy in advance of actual deployment. To improve this understanding, we developed a benchtop workflow that allows for testing of physical interactions between prosthetic valves and patient-specific aortic root anatomy, including calcified leaflets, prior to actual prosthetic valve placement.

Methods. This was a retrospective study of 30 patients who underwent TAVR at a single high volume center. By design, the dataset contained 15 patients with a successful annular seal (defined by an absence of paravalvular leaks) and 15 patients with a sub-optimal seal (presence of paravalvular leaks) on post-procedure transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE). Patients received either a balloon-expandable (Edwards Sapien or Sapien XT, n=15), or a self-expanding (Medtronic CoreValve or Core Evolut, n=14, St. Jude Portico, n=1) valve. Pre-procedural computed tomography (CT) angiograms, parametric geometry modeling, and multi-material 3D printing were utilized to create flexible aortic root physical models, including displaceable calcified valve leaflets. A 3D printed adjustable sizing device was then positioned in the aortic root models and sequentially opened to larger valve sizes, progressively flattening the calcified leaflets against the aortic wall. Optimal valve size and fit were determined by visual inspection and quantitative pressure mapping of interactions between the sizer and models.

Results. Benchtop-predicted “best fit” valve size showed a statistically significant correlation with gold standard CT measurements of the average annulus diameter (n=30, p < 0.0001 Wilcoxon matched-pairs signed rank test). Adequateness of seal (presence or absence of paravalvular leak) was correctly predicted in 11/15 (73.3%) patients who received a balloonexpandable valve, and in 9/15 (60%) patients who received a self-expanding valve. Pressure testing provided a physical map of areas with an inadequate seal; these corresponded to areas of paravalvular leak documented by post-procedural transthoracic echocardiography.

Conclusion. We present and demonstrate the potential of a workflow for determining optimal prosthetic valve size that accounts for aortic annular dimensions as well as the active displacement of calcified valve leaflets during prosthetic valve deployment. The workflow’s open source framework offers a platform for providing predictive insights into the design and testing of future prosthetic valves.

The manuscript was published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Computed Tomography and can be found here, in addition to the web app, github repository, and sizing hardware.