A finite element model of the left atrium, incorporating detailed anatomical features and realistic material characteristics, was built to investigate the interaction of heart tissue and surgical instruments. This model was used to facilitate the design of an endoscopically deployable atrial retractor for use in minimally invasive, robotically assisted (MIRA) mitral valve repair. The left atrial geometry was imported directly from MRI data of an explanted porcine heart, and material properties were derived from experimental testing of cardiac tissues. Model accuracy was verified by comparing simulated cardiac wall deflections to those measured by MRI. Finite element analysis was shown to be an effective tool for analyzing instrument/tissue interactions and for designing surgical instruments.

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