Despite recent progress, mechanical properties of tissue engineered heart valves still lack mechanical strength compared to native aortic valves [1]. Although cyclic tissue straining in bioreactor systems is known to enhance tissue formation [2], specific optimal loading protocols have not yet been defined. To get a better insight in the effects of mechanical loading on tissue development, mechanical behavior of tissue constructs should be monitored and controlled during culture. However, currently used methods for mechanical characterization (e.g. tensile tests, indentation tests) are destructive and can therefore only be performed at the end stage of tissue culture. An experimental-numerical approach was previously proposed by which leaflet deformation was assessed during culture in a bioreactor system, real-time and non-invasively [3]. Further development of this approach now enables a non-invasive and non-destructive assessment of mechanical properties of engineered heart valve leaflets.

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