Regurgitant flow field characteristics of the St. Jude bileaflet mechanical heart valve under physiologic pulsatile flow using particle image velocimetry

Keefe B Manning, Vinayak Kini, Arnold A Fontaine, Steven Deutsch, John M Tarbell
Artificial Organs 2003, 27 (9): 840-6
The regurgitant flow fields of clinically used mechanical heart valves have been traditionally studied in vitro using flow visualization, ultrasound techniques, and laser Doppler velocimetry under steady and pulsatile flow. Detailed investigation of the forward and regurgitant flow fields of these valves can elucidate a valve's propensity for blood element damage, thrombus formation, or cavitation. Advances in particle image velocimetry (PIV) have allowed its use in the study of the flow fields of prosthetic valves. Unlike other flow field diagnostic systems, recent work using PIV has been able to relate particular regurgitant flow field characteristics of the Bjork-Shiley Monostrut valve to a propensity for cavitation. In this study, the regurgitant flow field of the St. Jude Medical bileaflet mechanical heart valve was assessed using PIV under physiologic pulsatile flow conditions. Data collected at selected time points prior to and after valve closure demonstrated the typical regurgitant jet flow patterns associated with the St. Jude valve, and indicated the formation of a strong regurgitant jet, in the B-datum plane, along with twin vortices near the leaflets. Estimated ensemble-average viscous shear rates suggested little potential for hemolysis when the hinge jets collided. However, the vortex motion near the occluder tips potentially provides a low-pressure environment for cavitation.

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