Quantification and Analysis of Leaflet Flutter on Biological Prosthetic Cardiac Valves

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The use of porcine or bovine pericardium biological cardiac valves has as its main disadvantage a relatively short lifespan, with failures due to calcification and fatigue. Increasing these valves’ durability constitutes a great challenge. An understudied phenomenon is the effect of flutter, an oscillation of the leaflets that can cause regurgitation and accelerate calcification and fatigue. As a starting point to study how to reduce or prevent these oscillations, a method was developed to quantify the flutter frequencies occurring at the point of the valve's full opening. On a test bench that simulates the heart flow, the cusp behaviors of eight biological valves were filmed with a high speed camera at 2000 frames per second at different flow rates and motion capture software obtained the frequencies and amplitudes of the vibrations of each leaflet. Oscillations in the range of 200 Hz with average amplitudes of 0.4 mm were found; larger nominal diameter valves obtained lower values, and bovine pericardial valves had superior performance compared to porcine valves. A dimensionless analysis was performed to find a relationship between the geometric and mechanical properties of the valves with the critical speed of the onset of fluttering. This relationship inspired a method to predict whether flutter will occur in the bioprosthesis. This method is a new tool for the consideration of maximizing the life of prosthetic valves.

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