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Research project

Biomechanics in Congenital Cardiology

Status: Ongoing project. Start date: May 2018 End date: May 2021.

We aim to unravel the etiology of cardiovascular complications in patients with congenital heart disease and to advance personalized treatment of these patients.

What we do

About our project


With impressive improvements in treatment options, survival of patients with congenital heart disease has increased tremendously over the years. However, during adult life, these patients often suffer from cardiovascular problems and have a limited quality of life. At the moment, treatment is not optimal. We aim that the biomechanical condition of the heart and aorta (partly) determines the onset of these problems such as heart failure, arrhythmias and aortic dilation.


We are creating patient specific biomechanical models of the heart and blood flow in the vasculature. We use these models to assess the value of biomechanical parameters in predicting problems in patients. The ultimate goal is to make better predictions of future problems for the patient and to assist doctors with clinical decision making.


Cardiovascular MRI is a rapidly developing imaging technique which has the unique proporty to provide doctors with not only anatomical information, but only also information on cardiac and vessel function. Consequently, it has the potential to measure biomechanical factors acting on cardiac and great vessel tissue.

This research project is a collaboration between the cardiology and biomedical engineering department. Cardiac MRI images of congenital heart disease patients are provided by the clinicans and biomechanical modeling is performed in collaboration with the biomedical engineering departmen.

Our research focus

Aortic dilation

1 out of 100 people is born with a bicuspid aortic valve. In 20-40% of these patients the aorta becomes enlarged, dilated, which increases the risk on sudden aortic rupture, aorta dissection. This is a life treatening situation. In this study, with MRI 4D flow we look at patients’ flow patterns and wall shear stresses to assess if aortic expansion can be predicted.

Heart failure & arrhythmias

In patients with Tetralogy of Fallot, the function of the pulmonary valve often deteriorates over time. The ventricle has to cope with an overflow of blood, a volume overload. During this process, changes in muscle fibers occur and heart failure and/or ventricular arrhythmias can set in. Untill now, we do not know when the pulmonary valve should be replaced. With heart modeling, we aim to measure the harm the ventricles have to endure and to check what is the best moment for the surgery.

Funds & Grants

  • Thorax Foundation
  • Stichting Hartekind


  • Department of Biomedical Engineering
  • Department of Pediatrics
  • Department of Radiology