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Surface pitting of heart valve disks tested in an accelerated fatigue tester

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There are various reports on the fracture of mechanical heart valves implanted in humans or animals and it has been pointed out that fractures are induced by erosion of the disk surface due to cavitation bubbles. Cavitation erosion on mechanical heart valves was studied using our originally designed accelerated fatigue tester. Several valve housings with different compliance values were used. The number and position of pits on the valve disk were measured using an optical microscope. Disk-closing velocity was measured and cavitation bubbles were monitored by a high-speed video camera. It was found that disk-closing velocity increased and cavitation erosion was enhanced with an increase in compliance of the valve holder. Therefore, careful attention should be paid to the compliance of an accelerated fatigue tester.


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