An efficient finite element approach for modeling fibrotic clefts in the heart

Caroline Mendonca Costa, Fernando O. Campos, Anton J. Prassl, Rodrigo Weber dos Santos, Damian Sanchez-Quintana, Helmut Ahammer, Ernst Hofer, Gernot Plank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Advanced medical imaging technologies provide a
wealth of information on cardiac anatomy and structure at a
paracellular resolution, allowing to identify microstructural discontinuities
which disrupt the intracellular matrix. Current stateof-
the-art computer models built upon such datasets account for
increasingly finer anatomical details, however, structural discontinuities
at the paracellular level are typically discarded in the
model generation process, owing to the significant costs which incur
when using high resolutions for explicit representation. In this
study, a novel discontinuous finite element (dFE) approach for discretizing
the bidomain equations is presented, which accounts for
fine-scale structures in a computer model without the need to increase
spatial resolution. In the dFE method, this is achieved by
imposing infinitely thin lines of electrical insulation along edges of
finite elements which approximate the geometry of discontinuities
in the intracellular matrix. Simulation results demonstrate that
the dFE approach accounts for effects induced by microscopic size
scale discontinuities, such as the formation of microscopic virtual
electrodes, with vast computational savings as compared to high
resolution continuous finite elementmodels. Moreover, themethod
can be implemented in any standard continuous finite element code
with minor effort.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)900-910
JournalIEEE transactions
Issue number3
Early online date21 Nov 2013
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014


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