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Published May 2005 | metadata_only
Journal Article

Can regurgitant flow damage the left atrial endothelium in patients with prosthetic mechanical heart valves?


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 to the 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.

Additional Information

© 2005 ICR Publishers. The authors gratefully acknowledge the help of Dr. Masoud Beizaie in designing the soluble fluorescent polymers used in this study, and the efficient library services of Mrs. Margie Cohn-Serling and her coworkers of the Faculty of Medicine.

Additional details

August 19, 2023
August 19, 2023