Ghent University

Case Study | Bio | Ghent, Belgium

“We really try to bring simulation technology from bench, meaning from device development, to bed, meaning clinical practice. One of the key aspects for doing this is model validation. Model validation is where our Instron equipment is of upmost importance.”

Dr. Matthieu De Beule


The Overview

Both within Dr. Matthieu De Beule’s lab for biofluid, tissue, and solid mechanics for medical applications at Ghent University, and at Dr. De Beule’s spin-off company, FEops, he strives to develop novel, realistic simulation strategies for minimally invasive cardiovascular devices.

The Challenge

One of the challenges Dr. De Beule’s lab faces is the need for flexible testing equipment that enables him to do a multitude of tests in order to validate model simulations. The testing in Dr. Beule’s lab requires testing specimens in unique positions and orientations, in addition to testing at non-ambient temperatures and in fluid baths to simulate conditions in the human body.

Overall, collecting mechanical testing data in the most realistic conditions as possible is critical for proper simulation validation. This information enables doctors and clinicians to better understand and predict how a patient may react to a specific cardiovascular device before even doing the surgery.

"For example, one device his team models for is a transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) used to replace diseased aortic valves. Currently, there are minimally invasive stent based products on the market but the success of these devices vary for different patients. For some patients, the outcome of TAVI could be poor such as in conditions where the valve can become leaky. By using simulations that combine properties of the stent such as size, mechanical characteristics, and stent type, with patient data, he hopes to better predict a patient’s outcome.

The Solution

In order to achieve the desired testing flexibility, it was clear that Instron’s 5944 system provided the best solution. The 5944 can be placed both vertically upright or laid down horizontally. The ability to change back and forth to either configuration enabled his lab to test a variety of different products in different orientations.

In addition, the use of a BioBox was beneficial for testing high elongation materials such as catheters at body temperature. The lab also benefitted from using the BioPuls Bath, which enables testing implantable devices at body temperature in a fully hydrated state. With the flexibility of the 5944, a variety of different testing can be completed with a single system. For example, a tensile test of Nitinol wire, a tensile test on a piece of human tissue, or a flexural test of an entire stent can all be done using one 5944 system.

The Results

Dr. De Beule’s lab has the ability to combine experimental data gathered with Instron equipment, product data, and patient information to create advanced computer simulations for predicting patient outcomes. This approach has been especially useful in patient specific modelling where imaging and data is taken from a patient in order to predict the device outcome for that patient.

“In the biomedical research field such versatile equipment, such as Instron’s, is very useful because we have different types of devices, different types of tissues, different testing orientations. With other mechanical testing systems this may not be feasible. The approach of Instron to flexibility while combining unique fixtures such as the ability to test at 37°C is of huge advantage.”

Dr. Matthieu De Beule