Sinus of Valsalva: a converging nozzle that contributes to stable flow in the coronary arteries

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Abstract

The anatomy of the sinuses of Valsalva has not been considered from the viewpoint of a converging nozzle. Converging nozzles reduce turbulence. We reviewed computed tomographic images of the left and right sinuses of Valsalva in 20 consecutive patients. The sinuses of Valsalva were shown to have a shape in the axial projection that approximates a cubic equation nozzle, although the sinuses of Valsalva are not axisymmetric. The ratios of the cross-sectional area of the inlet to cross-sectional areas of the outlet, assuming the sinuses are axisymmetric, were 14 and 17 in the left and right sinuses, respectively. Calculations by others show that turbulent kinetic energy at the exit (at the coronary ostia) of such axisymmetric nozzles would be reduced by 97%. We conclude that the sinuses of Valsalva have the configuration of a converging nozzle and prevent or reduce turbulent flow in the proximal portions of the coronary arteries.

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