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Role of vortices in cavitation formation in the flow at the closure of a bileaflet mitral mechanical heart valve

Chi-Pei Li, Sheng-Fu Chen, Chi-Wen Lo, Po-Chien Lu
Journal of Artificial Organs: the Official Journal of the Japanese Society for Artificial Organs 2012, 15 (1): 57-64
22015913
Bubble cavitation occurs in the flow field when local pressure drops below vapor pressure. One hypothesis states that low-pressure regions in vortices created by instantaneous valve closure and occluder rebound promote bubble formation. To quantitatively analyze the role of vortices in cavitation, we applied particle image velocimetry (PIV) to reduce the instantaneous fields into plane flow that contains information about vortex core radius, maximum tangential velocity, circulation strength, and pressure drop. Assuming symmetrical flow along the center of the St. Jude Medical 25-mm valve, flow fields downstream of the closing valve were measured using PIV in the mitral position of a circulatory mock loop. Flow measurements were made during successive time phases immediately following the impact of the occluder with the housing (O/H impact) at valve closing. The velocity profile near the vortex core clearly shows a typical Rankine vortex. The vortex strength reaches maximum immediately after closure and rapidly decreases at about 10 ms, indicating viscous dissipation; vortex strength also intensifies with rising pulse rate. The maximum pressure drop at the vortex center is approximately 20 mmHg, an insignificant drop relative to atmospheric vapor pressures, which implies vortices play a minor role in cavitation formation.

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