During cardiac development, the initially straight heart tube bends ventrally and rotates towards the right side of the embryo. The biomechanical mechanism of cardiac looping is still unclear, but it has been hypothesized to be related to the unbalanced forces in the left and right omphalomesenteric veins (OVs) generated by cytoskeletal contraction and cell migration, as well as contact with the Splanchnopleure (SPL), a membrane which is located at the ventral surface of the heart and wraps around the OV at the anterior intestinal portal (AIP) [1]. To test this hypothesis, a computational model is a powerful tool. The objective of this study is to generate a finite element model (FEM) with realistic geometry of the tubular heart with the OVs in its caudal ends, which contacts with the SPL. In alternative to the voxel based model, as explored by Young et al. [2], we study issues related to a model with smoothed surfaces, and its capacity in dealing with nonlinear material, large deformation and contact. Although heart looping proceeds normally without pressure generated from heart beat [3], we applied an internal pressure to test the model.

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