Dynamic impact stress analysis of a bileaflet mechanical heart valve

Qi Yuan, Lijun Xu, Bryan Kok Ann Ngoi, Tony J H Yeo, Ned H C Hwang
Journal of Heart Valve Disease 2003, 12 (1): 102-9

BACKGROUND AND AIMS OF THE STUDY: Mechanical heart valves (MHV) are widely used to replace dysfunctional and failed heart valves. The bileaflet MHV is very popular due to its superior hemodynamics. At present, bileaflet MHVs account for about two-thirds of the prosthetic heart valve market. Since their introduction in 1977, the hemodynamics of bileaflet prostheses has been extensively studied. New technologies used to develop MHV include better design concepts, materials, manufacturing processes, and post-design verification. The study aim was to investigate the dynamic impact stress of a newly designed bileaflet MHV under normal physiological conditions.

METHODS: Pro/Engineer was used to generate a 3-D model of the designed valve. ANSYS 5.5 and LS-DYNA were used to calculate stress and deformation of the valve. Due to symmetry, a one-half orifice and one leaflet were modeled using the eight-noded hexahedral elements. When valve leaflets are in the fully closed position, the static contact stress between leaflet and orifice was predicated under typical heart valve closing pressure of 80 mmHg. To study the dynamic effects of the closing valve, LS-DYNA was used to simulate leaflet motion. Typical physiological pressure waveform was employed to initiate this leaflet motion. Two types of valve were investigated: Test valve A (size 19, flat leaflet); and test valve B (size 19, tapered leaflet 1.5 degrees, with the same thickness at pivot as valve A). The non-invasive laser sweeping technique was used to measure leaflet closing velocity in a mock flow test rig. The closing velocity of test valve A was compared by experimental and computed results. The corresponding dynamic contact stress on the leaflet was obtained for different modes of loading, simulated under angular velocity, acceleration, and especially under representative pressure waveform.

RESULTS: The experimental closing velocity of test valve A was 1.07 +/- 0.05 m/s; the computed value was 1.130 m/s. During full closure, the leaflets showed a slight rebound, and this was also seen experimentally. For test valve B, the computed closing velocity was 1.039 m/s. In the dynamic impact analysis, the physiological pressure waveform was obtained at a normal heart rate of 70 beats/min from the mock flow test rig. Dynamic stress and displacement of the model valve were calculated as the valve was closing. The time step of calculation was determined by the wave propagation velocity and element size. With an interhinge distance of 4.966 mm based on the geometric design of the valve, maximum dynamic von Mises stress appeared near the hinge of the leaflet (26.92 MPa for valve A; 22.36 MPa for valve B). By varying the position of the hinge/pivoting axis (+/- 10%), an optimized valve geometry could be obtained based on minimal impact stress on the valve leaflet.

CONCLUSION: Based on closing velocity comparison of valve A, the calculated model and loading conditions were seen to be reasonable. Computational accuracy was satisfied. The tapering feature of the leaflet is designed especially for minimal impact stress at the leaflet contact areas upon impact with the inner walls of the BMHV. These points provide an optimum structure design for the Nanyang Technological University BMHV.

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