Delineating the normal postnatal development of the pulmonary artery (PA) and ascending aorta (AA) can inform our understanding of congenital abnormalities, as well as pulmonary and systolic hypertension. We thus conducted the following study to delineate the PA and AA postnatal growth deformation characteristics in an ovine model. MR images were obtained from endoluminal surfaces of 11 animals whose ages ranged from 1.5 months/15.3 kg mass (very young) to 12 months/56.6 kg mass (adult). A bicubic Hermite finite element surface representation was developed for the each artery from each animal. Under the assumption that the relative locations of surface points were retained during growth, the individual animal surface fits were subsequently used to develop a method to estimate the time-evolving local effective surface growth (relative to the youngest measured animal) in the end-diastolic state. Results indicated that the spatial and temporal surface growth deformation patterns of both arteries, especially in the circumferential direction, were heterogeneous, leading to an increase in taper and increase in cross-sectional ellipticity of the PA. The longitudinal PA growth stretch of a large segment on the posterior wall reached 2.57 ± 0.078 (mean ± SD) at the adult stage. In contrast, the longitudinal growth of the AA was smaller and more uniform (1.80 ± 0.047). Interestingly, a region of the medial wall of both arteries where both arteries are in contact showed smaller circumferential growth stretches—specifically 1.12 ± 0.012 in the PA and 1.43 ± 0.071 in the AA at the adult stage. Overall, our results indicated that contact between the PA and AA resulted in increasing spatial heterogeneity in postnatal growth, with the PA demonstrating the greatest changes. Parametric studies using simplified geometric models of curved arteries during growth suggest that heterogeneous effective surface growth deformations must occur to account for the changes in measured arterial shapes during the postnatal growth period. This result suggests that these first results are a reasonable first-approximation to the actual effective growth patterns. Moreover, this study clearly underscores how functional growth of the PA and AA during postnatal maturation involves complex, local adaptations in tissue formation. Moreover, the present results will help to lay the basis for functional replacement by defining critical geometric metrics.

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