Acoustic and visual characteristics of cavitation induced by mechanical heart valves

Kwanghyun Sohn, Keefe B. Manning, Arnold A. Fontaine, John M. Tarbell, Steven Deutsch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background and aim of the study: A sudden pressure drop and recovery can induce cavitation in liquids. Mechanical heart valves (MHVs) generate such a pressure drop at closure, and cavitation generation around MHVs has been demonstrated many times. Cavitation is suspected as being a cause of blood and valve material damage. Methods: In this in-vitro experiment, visual images and acoustic signals associated with MHV cavitation were studied to reveal cavitation characteristics. Björk-Shiley Convex-Concave valves, one with a pyrolytic carbon occluder and one with a Delrin occluder, were installed in a single-shot valve chamber. Cavitation intensity was controlled by load (dP/dt) and air content of water. The acoustic signal was measured using a hydrophone and visual images recorded with a high-speed digital camera system. Results: Cavitation images showed that 10 ppm water rarely developed cavitation, unlike the 16 ppm water. A distinct peak pressure was observed at cavitation collapse that was a good indicator of MHV cavitation intensity. The average of the peak pressures revealed that cavitation intensity increased faster with increasing load for the 16 ppm water. Conclusion: The use of the peak pressure may be the preferred method for correlating cavitation intensity in structures for which the separation of valve closure noise and cavitation signal is difficult, as for the valves studied here.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)551-558
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Heart Valve Disease
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


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