Imaging techniques of the mitral valve have improved tremendously during the last decade, but challenges persist. The delicate changes in annulus shape and papillary muscle position throughout the cardiac cycle have significant impact on the stress distribution in the leaflets and chords, thus preservation of anatomically accurate positioning is critical. The aim of this study was to develop an in vitro method and apparatus for obtaining high-resolution 3D MRI images of porcine mitral valves in both the diastolic and systolic configurations with physiologically appropriate annular shape, papillary muscle positions and orientations, specific to the heart from which the valve was harvested. Positioning and mounting was achieved through novel, customized mounting hardware consisting of papillary muscle and annulus holders with geometries determined via pre-mortem ultrasonic intra-valve measurements. A semi-automatic process was developed and employed to tailor Computer Aided Design models of the holders used to mount the valve. All valve mounting hardware was 3D printed using a stereolithographic printer, and the material of all fasteners used were brass for MRI compatibility. The mounted valves were placed within a clear acrylic case, capable of holding a zero-pressure and pressurized liquid bath of a MRI-compatible fluid. Obtaining images from the valve submerged in liquid fluid mimics the natural environment surrounding the valve, avoiding artefacts due to tissue surface tension mismatch and gravitational impact on tissue shape when not neutrally buoyant. Fluid pressure was supplied by reservoirs held at differing elevations and monitored and controlled to within ±1mmHg to ensure that the valves remained steady. The valves were scanned in a 7 Tesla MRI system providing a voxel resolution of at least 80μm. The systematic approach produced 3D datasets of high quality which, when combined with physiologically accurate positioning by the apparatus, can serve as an important input for validated computational models.

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Published in PLOS ONE, v. 12, 8, e0184042, p. 1-18.

This is an open access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication.

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This study was supported by the Arkansas Research Alliance, received by MJ, http://aralliance.org/; the National Center for Toxicological Research, protocol number E9999928, received by SL, https://www.fda.gov/nctr/; and the National Science Foundation, grant number CMMI-1538754, received by JFW, https://www.nsf.gov/.

journal.pone.0184042.s001.docx (18 kB)
S1 Appendix. Complete equation list and variable definitions for customizing PM holder.