Successful heart experiment at the AMC due to LifeTec Group research platform

Hundreds of scans are carried out every week with the MRI scanners at the Academic Medical Center (AMC) in Amsterdam. In the early morning of 22 June, however, it was not a patient under the scanner but a heart, beating without a body. AMC scientists are working closely with LifeTec Group to find out how a new artificial heart valve affects blood flow. And with success!

It must have been a strange sight for AMC researchers Pim van Ooij, Eva Peper and Aart Nederveen: a beating pig’s heart without a pig’s body. For LifeTec Group researcher Sjoerd van Tuijl, however, this is an everyday thing. ‘We bring excised pig hearts back to life to conduct research on them. By using slaughterhouse pig hearts we reduce the requisite animal testing.’ Nevertheless, this experiment is new for Sjoerd too. It is the first time that LifeTec Group’s beating heart platform (PhysioHeart) has been placed inside an MRI scanner. ‘We had to make quite a few adjustments, for instance replace several metal parts with plastic.’

 

  • 'PhysioHeart' in AMC MRI | Photo: Alwin Slomp
    'PhysioHeart' in AMC MRI | Photo: Alwin Slomp
    'PhysioHeart' in AMC MRI | Photo: Alwin Slomp
  • 'PhysioHeart' in AMC MRI | Photo: Alwin Slomp
    'PhysioHeart' in AMC MRI | Photo: Alwin Slomp
    'PhysioHeart' in AMC MRI | Photo: Alwin Slomp
  • 'PhysioHeart' in AMC MRI | Photo: Alwin Slomp
    'PhysioHeart' in AMC MRI | Photo: Alwin Slomp
    'PhysioHeart' in AMC MRI | Photo: Alwin Slomp
  • 'PhysioHeart' in AMC MRI | Photo: Alwin Slomp
    'PhysioHeart' in AMC MRI | Photo: Alwin Slomp
    'PhysioHeart' in AMC MRI | Photo: Alwin Slomp
  • 'PhysioHeart' in AMC MRI | Photo: Alwin Slomp
    'PhysioHeart' in AMC MRI | Photo: Alwin Slomp
    'PhysioHeart' in AMC MRI | Photo: Alwin Slomp
  • 'PhysioHeart' in AMC MRI | Photo: Alwin Slomp
    'PhysioHeart' in AMC MRI | Photo: Alwin Slomp
    'PhysioHeart' in AMC MRI | Photo: Alwin Slomp
  • 'PhysioHeart' in AMC MRI | Photo: Alwin Slomp
    'PhysioHeart' in AMC MRI | Photo: Alwin Slomp
    'PhysioHeart' in AMC MRI | Photo: Alwin Slomp
  • 'PhysioHeart' in AMC MRI | Photo: Alwin Slomp
    'PhysioHeart' in AMC MRI | Photo: Alwin Slomp
    'PhysioHeart' in AMC MRI | Photo: Alwin Slomp
  • 'PhysioHeart' in AMC MRI
    'PhysioHeart' in AMC MRI
    'PhysioHeart' in AMC MRI

PAPAVER project

The aim of the test is to develop new MRI techniques making it possible to measure blood flow in artificial heart valves in 4D. The experiment is part of the PAPAVER project (Progression in Image Analysis for Percutaneous Aortic Valve Replacement). Patients who need a new heart valve but for whom open heart surgery is too risky are eligible for an alternative treatment, introducing the artificial valve through the groin to reach the heart via the aorta. It’s an extraordinarily inventive method, although there is a degree of risk involved. The project focuses on predicting the success of this minimally invasive treatment pre-operatively, by using a model based on a patient’s MRI scan.  Sjoerd: ‘The heart valve can leak, for example, if it is not placed in exactly the right position.'  So far it has been difficult to predict what the dangers were and which patients were most at risk. These MRI scans are intended to offer clarity.

Results

Making an MRI scan of a beating heart, however, is not easy. Sjoerd: ‘We try to attune the blood pressure to mimic the situation in the human body as closely as possible.’  Three scans were carried out in total. The results show interference in the images generated by the MRI technique due to the metal parts of the heart valve. Further analysis of the measurements should show to what extent the images can be useful. The results will be used to further improve the MRI technique. Successful experiment? ‘Certainly. By placing a disembodied heart under the scanner you get a much clearer and therefore better scan. It also reduces the need for animal testing.’

Assistant Professor Henk Marquering:

‘Nobody anticipated this success! An isolated beating heart in an MRI scanner, crazy stuff! LifeTec pulled it off right from the first attempt and delivered a fantastic dataset of blood flow in the left ventricle of the heart and aorta. Even the coronary blood flow was observable. It was impressive to witness the experienced LifeTec team, consisting of Sjoerd, Alberto, and Nicky, dealing with an organ as delicate as the heart and getting it beating again so that it could perform in an MRI scanner as if in the body. Six out of six experiments successfully completed!’

if you require any further information please do not hesitate to contact Sjoerd van Tuijl:

Senior Research Engineer
Sjoerd van Tuijl
Call at +31 (0)40 298 93 93 or e-mail us

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