Benchtop characterization of the tricuspid valve leaflet pre-strains

Devin W. Laurence, Colton J. Ross, Ming Chen Hsu, Arshid Mir, Harold M. Burkhart, Gerhard A. Holzapfel, Chung Hao Lee*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The pre-strains of biological soft tissues are important when relating their in vitro and in vivo mechanical behaviors. In this study, we present the first-of-its-kind experimental characterization of the tricuspid valve leaflet pre-strains. We use 3D photogrammetry and the reproducing kernel method to calculate the pre-strains within the central 10×10 mm region of the tricuspid valve leaflets from n=8 porcine hearts. In agreement with previous pre-strain studies for heart valve leaflets, our results show that all the three tricuspid valve leaflets shrink after being explanted from the ex vivo heart. These calculated strains are leaflet-specific and the septal leaflet experiences the most compressive changes. Furthermore, the strains observed after dissection of the central 10×10 mm region of the leaflet are smaller than when the valve is explanted, suggesting that our computed pre-strains are mainly due to the release of in situ annulus and chordae connections. The leaflets are then mounted on a biaxial testing device and preconditioned using force-controlled equibiaxial loading. We show that the employed preconditioning protocol does not 100% restore the leaflet pre-strains as removed during tissue dissection, and future studies are warranted to explore alternative preconditioning methods. Finally, we compare the calculated biomechanically oriented metrics considering five stress-free reference configurations. Interestingly, the radial tissue stretches and material anisotropies are significantly smaller compared to the post-preconditioning configuration. Extensions of this work can further explore the role of this unique leaflet-specific leaflet pre-strains on in vivo valve behavior via high-fidelity in-silico models. Statement of significance: This study provides a first of its kind benchtop characterization of tricuspid valve leaflet pre-strains. We used 3D photogrammetry to reconstruct the central region of the tricuspid valve leaflets in three configurations. The associated configurational changes revealed compressive, leaflet-specific strains after dissection of the valve from its in situ environment. Interestingly, we found that biaxial preconditioning did not restore the measured pre-strains of the leaflets. Depending on the selection of the stress-free reference configuration, this led to substantial differences in the leaflet mechanics. Our findings and methodology are crucial when it comes to relating in vitro mechanical behaviors to valve function in vivo. Future studies can integrate our quantified pre-strains into in-silico simulations to get more realistic predictions about the valve function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-334
Number of pages14
JournalActa Biomaterialia
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2022


  • 3D photogrammetry
  • Configurational changes
  • Direct linear transformation
  • Preconditioning
  • Reproducing kernel method
  • Valve tissue biomechanics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Molecular Biology


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