Observation and quantification of gas bubble formation on a mechanical heart valve

H. Y. Lin, B. A. Bianccucci, S. Deutsch, A. A. Fontaine, J. M. Tarbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Clinical studies using transcranial Doppler ultrasonography in patients with mechanical heart valves (MHV) have detected gaseous emboli. The relationship of gaseous emboli release and cavitation on MHV has been a subject of debate in the literature. To study the influence of cavitation and gas content on the formation and growth of stable gas bubbles, a mock circulatory loop, which employed a Medtronic-Hall pyrolytic carbon disk valve in the mitral position, was used. A high-speed video camera allowed observation of cavitation and gas bubble release on the inflow valve surfaces as a function of cavitation intensity and carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration, while an ultrasonic monitoring system scanned the aortic outflow tract to quantify gas bubble production by calculating the gray scale levels of the images. In the absence of cavitation, no stable gas bubbles were formed. When gas bubbles were formed, they were first seen a few milliseconds after and in the vicinity of cavitation collapse. The volume of the gas bubbles detected in the aortic track increased with both increased CO2 and increased cavitation intensity. No correlation was observed, between O2 concentration and bubble volume. We conclude that cavitation is an essential precursor to stable gas bubble formation, and CO2, the most soluble blood gas, is the major component of stable gas bubbles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)304-309
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biomechanical Engineering
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Physiology (medical)


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