UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering


Personalised models of the arterial and venous system

Personalised simulations and experiments allow vascular surgeons decide the best treatment for aortic dissections.

Vanessa Diaz

27 September 2018

Aortic dissection is a challenging vascular condition to treat. The aortic wall 'splits' and separates and blood flow in the aorta becomes very disrupted and difficult to understand; patients are under life-threatening circumstances.  Each aortic dissection is unique and the risk of rupture or progression, very significant. Still, vascular surgeons must make life or death decisions based on indicators that are difficult to comprehend, complex, compounded, unique and different for each patient.
A team led by Dr Vanessa Diaz and Prof. Stavroula Balabani has developed a vascular system that is patient-specific and entirely personalisable, which allows surgeons to prepare for aortic dissections by performing simulations of surgical interventions and 'virtual prototyping' to explore different treatment possibilities.  They can then test the most promising interventions in a physical, patient-specific 'emulator'. This patient-specific emulator comprises a computer-controlled system, a highly personalisable and tunable physical model of the rest of the circulation and uses 3D printed phantoms to simulate a variety of specific vascular conditions, allowing surgeons to explore surgical procedure in a completely safe environment.

Related links:

Multiscale Cardiovascular Engineering