Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Gerald Miller

Second Advisor

Dr. Ding-Yu Fei

Third Advisor

Dr. James Arrowood


Congenital heart valve disease is one of the most common abnormalities in children, with common valve defects being aortic stenosis, mitral stenosis, and valvular regurgitation. Although adult sized mechanical heart valve (MHV) replacements are widely studied and utilized, there are currently no FDA approved prosthetic heart valves available for the pediatric population. This is due to a variety of reasons such as a limited patient pool for clinical trials, limited valve sizes, and complex health histories in children. Much like adult sized mechanical heart valves, potential complications with pediatric heart valve replacements include thrombosis, blood damage due to high shear stresses, and cavitation. Due to pediatric sized MHVs being much smaller in size than adult MHVs, different fluid dynamic conditions and associated complications are expected. In order to accelerate the approval of pediatric sized heart valves for clinical use, it is important to first characterize and assess the fluid dynamics across pediatric sized heart valves. By understanding the hemodynamic performance of the valve, connections can be made concerning potential valve complications such as thrombosis and cavitation. The overall objective of this study is to better characterize and assess the flow field characteristics of a pediatric sized mechanical heart valve using flow visualization techniques in a mock circulatory loop. The mechanical heart valve chosen for this research was a size 17 mm Bjork-Shiley tilting disc valve, as this is a common size valve used for younger patients with smaller cardiovascular anatomy. The mock circulatory loop used in this research was designed to provide realistic pediatric physiological flow conditions, consisting of a Harvard Apparatus Pulsatile blood pump, venous reservoir, and a heart valve testing chamber. In order to expose the valve to realistic pediatric flow conditions, six unique pump operating conditions were tested that involved pre-determined heart rate and stroke volume combinations. In addition, a modified aortic root model was used to hold the mechanical heart valve in place within the loop and to provide more realistic aortic root geometry. This heart valve chamber was made from a transparent acrylic material, allowing for fluid flow visualization. A traditional Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) experimental set up was used in order to illuminate the particles seeded within the fluid path, and thus allowing for the capture of sequential images using a high speed camera. The data collected throughout this study consisted of flow rate measurements using an ultrasonic flow meter, and the sequential PIV images obtained from the camera in order to analyze general flow characteristics across the pediatric valve. Such information regarding the flow profile across the valve allowed for conclusions to be made regarding the valve performance, such as average flow velocities and regions of regurgitant flow. By gaining a better understanding of the fluid dynamic profile across a pediatric sized heart valve, this may aid in the eventual approval of pediatric sized mechanical heart valves for future clinical use.


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