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You are here: Contents > 2005 > Volume 14 Number 3 May 2005 > MECHANICAL VALVES: LONG-TERM OUTCOME > Can Regurgitant Flow Damage the Left Atrial Endothelium in Patients with Prosthetic Mechanical Heart Valves?

Can Regurgitant Flow Damage the Left Atrial Endothelium in Patients with Prosthetic Mechanical Heart Valves?

Simcha Milo1, Mehrdad Zarandi2, Chaim Gutfinger3, Morteza Gharib2

1Faculty of Medicine, Department of Cardiac Surgery, Rambam Medical Center, 3Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Technion - Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel, 2Bioengineering Department, Cardiovascular Fluid Dynamic Research Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA

Background and aim of the study: Previous in-vitro studies of mechanical heart valves (MHVs) in the closed position demonstrated the formation of regurgitant flows, with bubbles and jets forming vortices during each systole. The study aim was to determine whether the regurgitant flow observed in patients with MHVs can damage the left atrial endothelium, due to shear stresses exerted on the endothelial layers. This objective has been accomplished by appropriate in-vitro simulation experiments.
Methods: In these experiments, leakage flow through several commercial MHVs was investigated. The geometry of the set-up closely resembled that of the left atrial anatomy. Water was forced through the slit of a closed MHV and directed toward the hemispherical cup coated with fluorescent paint. The flow field between the valve and the cup was photographed using high-speed videography,

from which local velocities were measured, using digital particle imaging velocimetry. Qualitative damage tothe surface of the cup was assessed from the amount of fluorescent paint removed from the cup.
Results: The experimental results and calculations indicated that flows through the gaps of the closed valves were sufficient to generate strong vortices, with velocities near the atrial wall in the range of 0.5 to 4.0 m/s, depending on the valve. This led to high shear stresses on the left atrial wall, which far exceeded physiologically acceptable levels.
Conclusion: The calculated shear stresses exceeded by orders of magnitude the maximum physiologically tolerated stresses. This suggests that shear stresses associated with regurgitant jets in MHVs may damage the endothelial cells, leading to the activation of the inflammatory reaction, enhanced procoagulation, platelet activation and aggregation, and mechanical cell denudation.
The Journal of Heart Valve Disease 2005;14:344-352

Can Regurgitant Flow Damage the Left Atrial Endothelium in Patients with Prosthetic Mechanical Heart Valves?

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