A Comparison of Flow Field Structures of Two Tri-Leaflet Polymeric Heart Valves
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Polymeric heart valves have the potential to reduce thrombogenic complications associated with current mechanical valves and overcome fatigue-related problems experienced by bioprosthetic valves. In this in vitro study, the velocity fields inside and downstream of two different prototype tri-lealfet polymeric heart valves were studied. Experiments were conducted on two 23 mm prototype polymeric valves, provided by AorTech Europe, having open or closed commissure designs and leaflet thickness of 120 and 80 μm, respectively. A two-dimensional LDV system was used to measure the velocity fields in the vicinity of the two valves under simulated physiological conditions. Both commissural design and leaflet thickness were found to affect the flow characteristics. In particular, very high levels of Reynolds shear stress of 13,000 dynes/cm2 were found in the leakage flow of the open commisure design. Maximum leakage velocities in the open and closed designs were 3.6 m/s and 0.5 m/s respectively; the peak forward flow velocities were 2.0 m/s and 2.6 m/s, respectively. In both valve designs, shear stress levels exceeding 4,000 dyne/cm2 were observed at the trailing edge of the leaflets and in the leakage and central orifice jets during peak systole. Additionally, regions of low velocity flow conducive to thrombus formation were observed in diastole. The flow structures measured in these experiments are consistent with the location of thrombus formation observed in preliminary animal experiments.
KeywordsFluid mechanics Polyurethanes Coaptation Washout Vena contracta Gap channel Oscillation
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