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Numerical simulation of the turbulent flow field distal to an aortic heart valve

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A numerical technique is described which simulates the turbulent flow through a aortic Jellyfish valve, for two volumetric flow rates of 15 and 26 l/min representing peak systole flow. The steady incompressible Navier-Stokes equations written in three-dimensional (3-D) format are solved iteratively using a computational fluid dynamics code (Bio-FL). The numerical results show that the flow at the edge of the membrane of the valve splits into two nearly symmetrical jets with similar phenomenological features. Moreover, the 3-D flow simulations indicate the existence of two vortices in the immediate vicinity of the valve ring. Although these vortices are attenuated rapidly downstream by diffusion, they can have an adverse effect on erythrocytes and active platelets. It is also shown that elevated shear stresses occur in the vicinity of the upstream surface of the open occluder. In general, the numerical predictions compare well with the experimental measurements made at various locations downstream of the valve. The locations and the values of maximum velocity and shear stress, as well as width and length of re-circulation regions, are correctly predicted.


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