Single ventricle heart defects are among the most serious congenital heart diseases, and are uniformly fatal if left untreated. Typically, a three-staged surgical course, consisting of the Norwood, Glenn, and Fontan surgeries is performed, after which the superior vena cava (SVC) and inferior vena cava (IVC) are directly connected to the pulmonary arteries (PA). In an attempt to improve hemodynamic performance and hepatic flow distribution (HFD) of Fontan patients, a novel Y-shaped graft has recently been proposed to replace the traditional tube-shaped extracardiac grafts. Previous studies have demonstrated that the Y-graft is a promising design with the potential to reduce energy loss and improve HFD. However these studies also found suboptimal Y-graft performance in some patient models. The goal of this work is to determine whether performance can be improved in these models through further design optimization. Geometric and hemodynamic factors that influence the HFD have not been sufficiently investigated in previous work, particularly for the Y-graft. In this work, we couple Lagrangian particle tracking to an optimal design framework to study the effects of boundary conditions and geometry on HFD. Specifically, we investigate the potential of using a Y-graft design with unequal branch diameters to improve hepatic distribution under a highly uneven RPA/LPA flow split. As expected, the resulting optimal Y-graft geometry largely depends on the pulmonary flow split for a particular patient. The unequal branch design is demonstrated to be unnecessary under most conditions, as it is possible to achieve the same or better performance with equal-sized branches. Two patient-specific examples show that optimization-derived Y-grafts effectively improve the HFD, compared to initial nonoptimized designs using equal branch diameters. An instance of constrained optimization shows that energy efficiency slightly increases with increasing branch size for the Y-graft, but that a smaller branch size is preferred when a proximal anastomosis is needed to achieve optimal HFD.

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