Pros and cons: modeling methods for vascular scaffolds
This protocol is extracted from research article:
3D printing of tissue engineering scaffolds: a focus on vascular regeneration
Biodes Manuf, Jan 4, 2021; DOI: 10.1007/s42242-020-00109-0

In general, modeling of vascular scaffolds involves parametric modeling and reverse engineering. Each method has advantages and disadvantages. Compared with reverse engineering methods, modeling by algorithms-based parametric modeling can quickly and automatically build scaffold models. However, for preparation of personalized and bionic vascular scaffolds, structures with high anatomical compatibility of human blood vessels can be reconstructed by reverse engineering-based modeling methods. 3D shapes of vascular scaffolds are determined by the corresponding anatomical parameters such as length, area, volume, and angle. Anatomical parameters are obtained by measurement and calculation. Micro-CT scanning and MRI are two available methods to obtain the parameters. Then, reconstruction of 3D models can be achieved by obtaining structural parameters and then parametric modeling or scanning the structures to obtain points cloud data to directly reconstruct. However, due to the limitation of manufacturing processes, structures of blood vessels usually cannot be fully reflected in the structural parameters obtained in the prepared structures. How to build functionalized blood vessel grafts? What parameters need to be considered in the modeling of scaffolds? Simplifying the 3D models may be an effective method. But how to ignore the structural parameters with extremely small dimensions is still a problem to be considered in parametric design and reverse engineering. Although there is no uniform standard, it is necessary to quantify evaluation criteria. There are some aspects that need to be characterized to ensure the feasibility of the two designs in vivo post manufacture: (i) predict elastic modulus and dilation and constriction of scaffolds by finite element analysis and numerical simulation of fluid mechanics [68]; (ii) predict oxygen and nutrient content of scaffolds with channels by numerical simulation [2]; (iii) match the porosity and aperture of the models with the structure of original blood vessels through measurement software and other methods [69]; (iv) enable the models of the two designs to fit for the corresponding physiological structures [70].

Blood vessels extend into virtually most tissues of bodies. Bone tissues, lung, heart, and other tissues almost all contain blood vessels. In modeling of these organizations, both hard tissues and soft tissues are usually involved. For the modeling of other tissue scaffolds superimposed with vascular scaffolds, based on parametric design or reverse engineering, hard tissue scaffolds and vascular scaffolds are modeled, respectively. And then reconstructed models are obtained by performing Boolean operations between hard tissue scaffolds and vascular scaffolds in 3D modeling software. The aspects of superior 3D modeling algorithms of vascular scaffolds, accurate micro-CT/MRI imaging, and reduction of manual operations are the main research domains about modeling methods. In addition, expertise of CT/MRI is unfamiliar for engineering staff. In contrast, algorithm theories are difficult to be mastered by medical personnel. Interdisciplinary cooperation and communication are indispensable means to model a vascular scaffold. Moreover, rapid and automated and accurate scaffold modeling is the development trend of vascular scaffold modeling in future. To this end, developing new design methods and building a database between vascular morphological characteristics and scaffold attributes may be a solution.

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