Calcific aortic valve disease (CAVD) is a progressive disease in which minerals accumulate in the tissue of the aortic valve cusps, stiffening them and preventing valve opening and closing. The process of valve calcification was found to be similar to that of bone formation including cell differentiation to osteoblast-like cells. Studies have shown the contribution of high strains to calcification initiation and growth process acceleration. In this paper, a new strain-based calcification growth model is proposed. The model aims to explain the unique shape of the calcification and other disease characteristics. The calcification process was divided into two stages: Calcification initiation and calcification growth. The initiation locations were based on previously published findings and a reverse calcification technique (RCT), which uses computed tomography (CT) scans of patients to reveal the calcification initiation point. The calcification growth process was simulated by a finite element model of one aortic valve cusp loaded with cyclic loading. Similar to Wolff's law, describing bone response to stress, our model uses strains to drive calcification formation. The simulation grows calcification from its initiation point to its full typical stenotic shape. Study results showed that the model was able to reproduce the typical calcification growth pattern and shape, suggesting that strain is the main driving force behind calcification progression. The simulation also sheds light on other disease characteristics, such as calcification growth acceleration as the disease progresses, as well as sensitivity to hypertension.
- Aortic valve