Velocity measurements and flow patterns within the hinge region of a Medtronic Parallel(TM) bileaflet mechanical valve with clear housing

Jeffrey T. Ellis, Timothy M. Healy, Arnold A. Fontaine, Rahul Saxena, Ajit P. Yoganathan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


Background and aims of the study: During recent clinical trials the Medtronic Parallel(TM) bileaflet mechanical heart valve was found to have an unacceptable number of valves with thrombus formation when implanted in the mitral position. Thrombi were observed in the hinge region and also in the upstream portion of the valve housing in the vicinity of the hinge. It was hypothesized that the flow conditions inside the hinge may have contributed to the thrombus formation. Methods: In order to investigate the flow structures within the hinge, laser Doppler anemometry (LDA) measurements were conducted in both steady and pulsatile flow at approximately 70 predetermined sites within the hinge region of a 27 mm Medtronic parallel mitral valve with transparent housing. The pulsatile flow velocity measurements were animated in time using a graphical software package to visualize the hinge flow field throughout the cardiac cycle. Results: The LDA measurements revealed that mean forward flow velocities through the hinge region were on the order of 0.10-0.20 m/s. In the inflow channel, a large vortical structure was present during diastole. Upon valve closure, peak reverse velocity reached 3 m/s close to the housing wall in the inflow channel. This area also experienced high turbulent shear stresses (>6000 dynes/cm2) during the leakage flow phase. A disturbed, vortical flow was again present in the inflow channel after valve closure, while slightly above the leaflet peg and relief the flow was essentially stagnant. The high turbulent stresses near the top of the inflow channel, combined with a persistent vortex, implicate the inflow channel of the hinge as a likely region of thrombus formation. Conclusions: This experimental investigation revealed zones of flow stagnation in the inflow region of the hinge throughout the cardiac cycle and elevated turbulent shear stress levels in the inflow region during the leakage flow phase. These fluid mechanic phenomena are most likely a direct result of the complex geometry of the hinge of this valve. Although the LDA measurements were conducted at only a limited number of sites within the hinge, these results suggest that the hinge design can significantly affect the washout capacity and thrombogenic potential of the Medtronic Parallel bileaflet mechanical heart valve. The use of LDA within the confines of the hinge region of a mechanical heart valve is a new application, made possible by recent advances in manufacturing technologies and a proprietary process developed by Medtronic that allowed the production of a transparent valve housing. Together, these modalities represent a new method by which future valve designs can be assessed before clinical trials are initiated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)591-599
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Heart Valve Disease
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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