Adaptive dynamic blood flow model turns doctor into better diagnostic therapist

Tampere 23 October 2000The Finnish Ragnar Granit Institute (RGI), a renowned medical technology research lab which operates under the Tampere University of Technology, has a 15-year old tradition of active digital modelling research. Today, the RGI-colleagues Dr. Jari Hyttinen and Professor Jaakko Malmivuo are co-ordinating DynAMo, a project for Dynamic Adaptive Modelling of the Human Body, funded by the Academy of Finland. The DynAMo team aims to develop accurate mathematical models of patient-specific electro-magnetic properties within the heart and the brain for clinical diagnosis and therapy. In particular, the partners will focus on the modelling of the cardiovascular system to generate models which describe cardiac function and blood flow in large blood vessels, such as the aorta.

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DynAMo forms part of the extensive 3-year research programme MaDaMe for Mathematical Methods and Modelling in the Sciences, totalling a funding amount of about 34.5 million FIM over 2000-2003 for 7 consortia and 7 individual projects. A grant of 2.8 million FIM has been reserved for DynAMo, which is a joint initiative between the Finnish Center for Scientific Computing (CSC) and the Helsinki and Tampere Universities of Technology. The other Finnish DynAMo collaborators include the Nokia Research Center, Datex-Ohmeda, and the Tampere University Hospital. The project involves a host of foreign partners as well, representing the Universities of Duke, Utah, Columbia, Minnesota, and Washington in the USA; the Universities of Talinn and Tartu in Estonia; the University of Montréal in Canada; and the University of Karlsruhe in Germany.

The area of the heart is the central point of interest within DynAMo. To model the mechanics and fluid dynamics of the cardiovascular system, the team applies advanced imaging modalities, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound. The Finnish Center for Scientific Computing (CSC) delivers the high computational power to calculate complex fluid flow fields in bloods vessels. CSC has equally developed the ELMER software to model the blood flow in the aorta. Apart from the cardiovascular system, the partners will also try to model the electro-magnetic properties of the human thorax and head, by obtaining functional and anatomical tissue parameters from medical imaging and measurement techniques based on mathematical and computational methods.

The research involves a high level of inter-disciplinarity striving to establish a cross-discipline research network to enable a technology transfer between physicians and experts on computational mathematics, fluid flow modelling, bio-electric field analysis, medical visualisation, and clinical measurements. Because of the dynamic and adaptive characteristics of the models, both the accuracy and viability of physiological systems' modelling can be optimised and brought from the present theoretical and experimental level towards the concrete implementation in daily clinical routine. Since the models are based on the person's individual anatomy and functional properties, physicians will be able to view the typical heart and breathing functions or the specific blood flow pattern of each and every patient.

Although the DynAMo partners dispose of only limited measurements of the physiological system and its quantities, the accurate modelling of a patient's anatomy and physical properties will result in an enhanced simulation of the underlying physical phenomena. In turn, the emergent modelling methods will bring forward new information from the patient's anatomy leading to a better clinical diagnosis and therapy through personal criteria. At the same time, DynAMo will provide mathematical tools to solve large computational models, refine measurement methods and signal analysis systems, and also develop state-of-the-art post-processing techniques. The partners anticipate that, once the project period time finished, DynAMo will go on and evolve as a continuous international process which will give birth to the novel concept of the virtual patient. More details on the project are available at the DynAMo Web site.


Leslie Versweyveld

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