Objective: Estimating neochord lengths during mitral valve repair is challenging, because approximation must be performed largely based on intuition and surgical experience. Little data exist on quantifying the effects of neochord length misestimation. We aimed to evaluate the impact of neochord length on papillary muscle forces and mitral valve hemodynamics, which is especially pertinent because increased forces have been linked to aberrant mitral valve biomechanics. Methods: Porcine mitral valves (n = 8) were mounted in an ex vivo heart simulator, and papillary muscles were fixed to high-resolution strain gauges while hemodynamic data were recorded. We used an adjustable system to modulate neochord lengths. Optimal length was qualitatively verified by a single experienced operator, and neochordae were randomly lengthened or shortened in 1-mm increments up to ±5 mm from the optimal length. Results: Optimal length neochordae resulted in the lowest peak composite papillary muscle forces (6.94 ± 0.29 N), significantly different from all lengths greater than ±1 mm. Both longer and shorter neochordae increased forces linearly according to difference from optimal length. Both peak papillary muscle forces and mitral regurgitation scaled more aggressively for longer versus shorter neochordae by factors of 1.6 and 6.9, respectively. Conclusions: Leveraging precision ex vivo heart simulation, we found that millimeter-level neochord length differences can result in significant differences in papillary muscle forces and mitral regurgitation, thereby altering valvular biomechanics. Differences in lengthened versus shortened neochordae scaling of forces and mitral regurgitation may indicate different levels of biomechanical tolerance toward longer and shorter neochordae. Our findings highlight the need for more thorough biomechanical understanding of neochordal mitral valve repair.
- cardiac biomechanics
- heart simulation, mitral valve
- neochordal repair
- papillary muscle forces