September 3, 2010

2 Min Read
Math + Computer Models = Better Stent Design

Computer models show the varying flexibility of different stent designs. Credit: Suncica Canic, Mate Kosor and Josip Tambaca; University of Houston and University of Zagreb

A chance social meeting between a University of Houston (TX) mathematician and several cardiologists has resulted in a simplified computer modeling approach to optimizing stent design.

"I realized we could provide [cardiologists] with a fluid dynamics and mechanics point of view to help them make decisions--for example, about which stent grafts they use in their procedures," mathematics professor Suncica Canic told the National Science Foundation (NSF). Now, supported by a joint grant from the NSF and the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of General Medical Science, Canic's team can study stent coating and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of various stent geometries.

Conventional computer modeling of stents is performed in 3-D and keeps track of roughly 200,000 nodes on the stent mesh, according to Canic. However, her team developed a simpler program that estimates stents as meshes of 1-D rods, which yields the same results as the more-complex method using only 400 nodes.

The team is now applying its new program to evaluating the structures of various stents currently on the market. It has found that stents can be optimized for different applications by tailoring their design, geometry, and stiffness. For example, the researchers have used their program to design a stent that combines flexibility with radial stiffness for an experimental heart-valve-replacement procedure. They believe that this design would be less vulnerable to buckling than current stents and optimal for this particular application.

Along with stent structure, the program has also prompted investigation of the concept of coating stents with ear cartilage to enhance biocompatibility. The computer program simulates the interaction of blood with the cartilage cells on the stent surface.

To learn more about Canic's computer program for stent design optimization, check out the below video. Also, read about MIT's work with computational modeling to improve the design of drug-eluting stents from MPMN's archives.

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