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Int J Artif Organs. 1991 Mar;14(3):169-74.

Cavitation potential of mechanical heart valve prostheses.

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  • 1Helmholtz-Institute for Biomedical Engineering, Aachen, Germany.


Just like technical check valves, the function of mechanical heart valve prostheses may presumably also lead to cavitation effects during valve closure. Due to the waterhammer effect, cavitation may primarily occur in the mitral position leading to high mechanical loading of the valve itself and of corpuscular blood elements. Ten different types of commercial mechanical heart valves were investigated in the mitral position of a pulsatile mock loop, to detect cavitation thresholds under physiologically similar conditions by cinematographic techniques. Almost all these valve prostheses show cavitation up to a ventricular pressure gradient of 5000 mmHg/s. The threshold depends on valve type and size and is sometimes within the physiological range below 2000 mmHg/s. Visible cavitation bubbles with a diameter of up to 1.8 mm and a collapse time of less than 0.1 ms suggest that vapour cavitation may play an important role for material and blood damage in mechanical heart valve prostheses.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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