Reduction of Pressure Gradient and Turbulence Using Vortex Generators in Prosthetic Heart Valves


Blood damage and platelet activation are inherent problems with present day bi-leaflet mechanical heart valve designs. Passive flow control through different arrangements of vortex generators (VG) as means of improving pressure gradients and reducing turbulence are investigated. Rectangular VG arrays were mounted on the downstream surfaces of a 23 mm 3D printed mechanical valve. The effect of VGs on the resulting flow structures were assessed under pulsatile physiological flow conditions where high resolution particle image velocimetry measurement was performed. The co-rotating VGs showed lower Reynolds shear stresses and improved pressure gradients (PG) compared with the counter-rotating ones and the no-VG control one (that showed higher turbulence). RSS was found 38.13 ± 0.89, 12.95 ± 0.32, 15.75 ± 0.71, 24.54 ± 0.84 and 16.33 ± 0.58 Pa for the control, co-rotating VGs, 8 counter-rotating VGs, 4 far-spaced VGs and 4 closely-spaced VGs, respectively. PG of 10.45 ± 0.94 mmHg was obtained with co-rotating VGs and the difference was significant compared with the other configurations (control 14.88 ± 0.4 mmHg; 8 counter-rotating VGs 13.76 ± 0.51 mmHg; 4 far-spaced VGs 13.84 ± 0.09 mmHg; and 4 closely-spaced VGs 15.37 ± 0.16 mmHg). Co-rotating VGs for this application induce a more delayed flow separation and a more homogenized and streamlined transition of flow compared with the counter-rotating VGs. Passive flow control techniques deployed on BHMVs is potentially beneficial as significant control of flow at small length scales without inducing large-scale design modifications of the valve.

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Vortex generators


Pressure gradient


Reynolds shear stress


Particle image velocimetry


Effective orifice area


Bi-leaflet mechanical heart valve


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The research done was partly supported by National Institutes of Health (NIH) under Award Number R01HL119824 and R01HL135505.

Conflict of interest

Dr. Dasi reports having two patent applications on novel surgical and transcatheter valves. He also has a patent issued on vortex generators on heart valves and a patent application on super hydrophobic vortex generator enhanced mechanical heart valves. No other conflicts were reported.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Lakshmi P. Dasi.

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Associate Editor Aleksander S. Popel oversaw the review of this article.

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Video 1 Fluid particles streaks for every valve case in every model over the cardiac cycle (AVI 9111 kb)

Video 1 Fluid particles streaks for every valve case in every model over the cardiac cycle (AVI 9111 kb)

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Hatoum, H., Dasi, L.P. Reduction of Pressure Gradient and Turbulence Using Vortex Generators in Prosthetic Heart Valves. Ann Biomed Eng 47, 85–96 (2019).

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  • Bi-leaflet mechanical valves
  • Reynold’s shear stress
  • Vortex generators
  • Co-rotating
  • Counter-rotating
  • Flow separation
  • Anti-coagulant
  • Blood damage