Cardio-circulatory physiology

Within this line of research, the 'Experimental Surgery Research Group' takes a global approach to research in the field of cardio-circulatory physiology and implications of related therapeutic possibilities:

  • Setting up animal experimental models to investigate pathophysiological mechanisms of cardiovascular dysfunction (valve dysfunction, myocardial dysfunction, pulmonary hypertension, cardiac arrhythmias, ...)
  • Investigation of new therapeutic applications for valve dysfunction
  • Biophysical implications of cardiopulmonary bypass and interaction with blood and clotting reactions

In this way, we provide scope for other disciplines such as cardiology, anaesthesia, critical care, paediatrics and surgery.


Below you can find a summary of all research projects:


Blood material interaction ventriculo-sinus shunt

Cerebrospinal outflow obstruction is treated by placing a shunt to the peritoneum or right anterior chamber. An experimental treatment is the placement of a ventriculo-sinus shunt. We are researching which materials that are hemocompatible and yet have sufficient mechanical strength to be used clinically.

Central laboratory

Mechanical testing of deglycated tissue

Sugar accumulation in the tissue causes stiffening of the tissue. An experimental treatment with fructosamine-3 kinase leads to tissue deglycation. We are researching the impact of this deglycation on the mechanical properties of tissue.


Optimal blood path for an ECMO oxygenator

Extracorporeal support for acute heart and/or lung failure is treated with ExtraCorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO). The existing oxygenators were not designed for long term use resulting in thrombus formation and bleeding, despite anticoagulation. The research focuses on optimizing the blood path to reduce the negative impact of the blood-material interaction.


Physiopathology of pathological pressure build-up in an oxygenator during cardiac surgery

A pathological increase in pressure drop across the oxygenator is seen in less than 1% of cardiac surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass. The cause of this is still unclear. The research focuses on the physiopathology of this phenomenon.


Electrophysiological research of proarrhythmogenic properties of inhalation anaesthetics

Although inhalational anaesthetics have a cardio-protective effect, their effect on intramyocardial excitation and arrhythmia promotion is unclear. Via Langendorff preparations of myocardial tissue, the effect of inhalation anaesthetics on the electrical properties of myocytes according to progressive dose increase is investigated.


Replication of pressure-volume recordings of the right ventricle based on 3D echocardiography for research of ventricular wall tension and function

Intra-operative evaluation of the right ventricular function remains subjective. This study aims to validate pressure-volume records using simultaneous 3D echocardiography and intraventricular pressure measurement, compared to standard conductance measurement.

Pediatric cardiology

Effect of stenosis versus aortic stiffness on ventriculo-arterial interaction after recovery from aortic coarctation

In an animal model, we research the sequences of coarctation recovery in the form of long versus short aortic stiffness and residual stenosis for impact on vascular and cardiac hemodynamics.


In vivo evaluation of the effect of local aortic stenosis versus stiffness on the pressure-flow relationship via the wave-intensity analysis method

The influence of aortic stiffness versus residual variable-length stenosis on pressure and flow curves is investigated, with a specific focus on the separation of forward and backward wave variations according to amplitude and time-related characteristics.


Study of time relationship of mechanoelectrical changes in volume-related right ventricular dysfunction

In an animal model of growing piglets, significant pulmonary valve insufficiency is developed in analogy to Fallot's surgical seals of a tetralogy. We research the impact on the hemodynamic and electrophysiological properties of right and left ventricular function over a 3- to 6-month timeline.

Cardiology - Cardiac surgery

Pressure-flow relationship of renal perfusion and influence on renovascular arterial hypertension

We research the influence of a variable degree of unilateral renal artery stenosis on the pressure-flow regulation of the contralateral kidney, as well as on the arterial blood pressure response and humoral interaction via the renin-angiotensin system, via an animal model.


Nitric Oxide responsiveness and endothelial dysfunction in an experimental animal model of differential pulmonary arterial hypertension

In an animal model, pulmonary arterial hypertension in one lung is created by applying an aortic pulmonary shunt. We research the hemodynamic influence on pulmonary pressure and resistance in the contralateral lung, including response to Nitric Oxide administration and activation of endothelial factors.


Biomechanical research of the physiological relationship between the tricuspid valve components and the right ventricle: effect of different surgical annuloplasty techniques

The biomechanical changes of the tricuspid valve are examined in an animal model of acute right ventricular failure by recording the spatial displacement of piezoelectric crystals on the main components of the valve. Secondly, we are researching the effect of various annulus stabilizing techniques on tricuspid valve function.


We collaborate closely with:

  • the University Hospital Ghent
  • IBiTech and bioMMeda, faculty of Engineering and Architecture (Prof. Patrick Segers), Ghent University (and this in the context of projects concerning sophisticated analyses of aortic pressure-flow waves)



  • Thierry Bové, researcher

  • Filip De Somer, researcher