Ultrasound for In Vitro, Noninvasive Real-Time Monitoring and Evaluation of Tissue-Engineered Heart Valves

Luis G. Hurtado-Aguilar, Shane Mulderrig, Ricardo Moreira, Nima Hatam, Jan Spillner, Thomas Schmitz-Rode, Stefan Jockenhoevel*, Petra Mela*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Tissue-engineered heart valves are developed in bioreactors where biochemical and mechanical stimuli are provided for extracellular matrix formation. During this phase, the monitoring possibilities are limited by the need to maintain the sterility and integrity of the valve. Therefore, noninvasive and nondestructive techniques are required. As such, optical imaging is commonly used to verify valve's functionality in vitro. It provides important information (i.e., leaflet symmetry, geometric orifice area, and closing and opening times), which is, however, usually limited to a singular view along the central axis from the outflow side. In this study, we propose ultrasound as a monitoring method that, in contrast to established optical imaging, can assess the valve from different planes, scanning the whole three-dimensional geometry. We show the potential benefits associated with the application of ultrasound to bioreactors, in advancing heart valve tissue engineering from design to fabrication and in vitro maturation. Specifically, we demonstrate that additional information, otherwise unavailable, can be gained to evaluate the valve's functionality (e.g., coaptation length, and effective cusp height and shape). Furthermore, we show that Doppler techniques provide qualitative visualization and quantitative evaluation of the flow through the valve, in real time and throughout the whole in vitro fabrication phase.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)974-981
JournalTissue Engineering. Part C. Methods
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016

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