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Next Generation Medical Design Tools: Full device Design Modelling of Aneurysm Repair Stents

Project Description

A 48-month PhD Studentship with strong industrial collaboration is available to develop computational design methods for stents used to mitigate rupture in aneurysms of the large arteries. The project will be in collaboration with Terumo Aortic ( ), an international leading medical device company and focus on their Anaconda, Thoraflex and Treo family of products. The research studies will build upon established FE computational techniques and extend these to investigate full device modelling in real artery environments. Interested applicants should have a first class degree in an engineering discipline with an interest in computational modelling techniques with a Bio medical application.

The occurrence and rupture of an aneurysm in the lower abdominal artery is the tenth most likely source of death in men over the age of 55. If an aneurysm is identified then stent like technologies have been developed over the last 10 years to allow for ease of deployment, structural support and to provide adequate blood flow to mitigate against aneurysm wall rupture. While such devices are in clinical use, the design of such devices is challenged by the inability to determine the true mechanical and haemodynamic state when deployed in an artery. Thus, the mitigation of device failure due to fatigue, leakage and restenosis is difficult. The inability to measure the true mechanical status of a device when deployed in a human artery necessitates the use of computational modelling tools. Thus the overall aim is to develop simulation tools to allow medical device manufacturers to minimise mechanical failure and to enhance the overall performance of devices that are specially tailored for patient’s anatomy. The project is driven by the technology needs of Terumo Aortic, based in Scotland and a world leader in aneurysm repair systems. The project builds upon engineering simulation methods developed by Dempster, Nash and Kyriakou of the University of Strathclyde, to represent the core ring elements of the Terumo stent graft systems and will extend these to address a number of new issues; including full device modelling in specific anatomies and the inclusion of vessel wall structural interactions.

The research challenge is to design these devices for continuous use for longer than normal engineered life times in a fatigue prone environment of 10-20 years when the stress state is generally unknown. Devices essentially are constructed from a polyester tube, structurally supported by nitinol wire, either wound into a ring bundle or in a Z- profiled ring which is then inserted into the diseased arteries to strengthen the artery and improve flow patency. Furthermore, device failures may also arise when the device becomes occluded due to thrombosis accumulation or migration due to haemodynamic forces or vessel wall pulsation. While current developments in medical image scanning technologies have led to a better appreciation of such issues it is generally accepted that improved design can only result from advances in computational modelling technologies, ie simulation tools that can model full device- artery interaction and provide details of the stress state and local blood flow conditions, thus connecting device state to artery geometrical configurations.

The principal objectives of the project are three fold:

(i) To extend the current structural analysis techniques to model full device conditions in patient specific geometries for both Ring and Z-stent Terumo Aortic graft devices.
(ii) To assess the accuracy of the model by comparison to experimentally derived validation data.
(ii) investigate the use of the full device model using scans of human anatomy for a range of complex conditions.

The student will join a diverse international community of researchers, numbering over 70 academics, post docs and PhD students working with an established wide range of knowledge in modelling, numerical methods, experimental techniques and practical applications in similar and related fields. The department runs international visitor and internal student focussed seminar programmes, including researcher social events. The student will work within a recently revised and modernised open plan office environment which is co-located with academic staff offices. IT equipment will be provided and access to funding for conference attendance is available.

Student should have some experience in the use Finite Element computational tools or equivalent ( example ANSYS, ABAQUS)

Funding is provided by Scottish Research Partnership in Engineering and Termo Aortic. The project will be supervised jointly by Dr William Dempster and Professor David Nash, both of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering with the principal supervisor being Dr Dempster.

Funding Notes

Funding is available for 4 years, and will cover Home/EU tuition fee , along with a stipend (currently £15009 - academic year 2019/20), and support with travel costs for the duration of the project. International students will be considered, but must be able to provide evidence of funding support, to cover difference between Home Fee and international tuition fee.

You should hold, or due to obtain a first class or BEng (Honours), MEng or MSc degree, or equivalent EU/International qualification, in a relevant physical sciences or engineering discipline.
Eligible Subject: Applied Physics, Mechanical Engineering, BioMedical Engineering, Computational Engineering.

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