Pekkan Cardiovascular Biofluids Group, Biomedical Engineering Deparment, Carnegie Mellon University

aortic arch at three stages of embryonic development

The objective is to quantify both morphology and hemodynamics of great vessel embryonic development at multiple fetal time steps. Our group recently performed two detailed engineering studies covering both the early embryonic and the late gestation period. For the former developmental period, three-dimensional pulsatile micro-scale flow regimes are involved. For the later, particularly fascinating is the fetal-to-neonatal transition of the circulation system which occurs rather rapidly with the first breath of life. In these studies, while the major step first step is normal development the ultimate aim is to study the abnormal cardiac development process. A 3D spatial and temporal comparison of hemodynamic indices and mechanical loading with cardiovascular biology are also targeted.

Fetal cardiac surgeries and interventions for the correction of cardiac defects have been initiated and performed in a limited number of patients during the last couple of years. Developing technologies to enable these interventions requires considerable engineering know-how. Moreover the resulting post-surgery pathway influences flow patterns in the fetal circulation which is in constant development and remodeling. Optimizing the fluid dynamics for better remodeling and early defect elimination is an important area that needs further studies. For this task, the progress in cardiac image modalities, especially cardiac imaging of the fetal heart, provides the basic anatomical and velocity information. (Figure on the right is from Dr. Helen Taussig's book)


(in collaboration with Prof. Bradley Keller's group)

fetal to neonatal transition