Design of a novel polymeric heart valve.
Polymeric heart valves could offer an optimum alternative to current prostheses, by joining the advantages of mechanical and bioprosthetic valves. Though a number of materials suitable for this application have recently become available, significant improvements in the valve design are still needed. In this paper, a novel polymeric heart valve design is proposed and its optimization procedure, based on the use of finite elements, is described. The design strategy was aimed at reducing the energy absorbed during the operating cycle, resulting in high hydrodynamic performances and reduced stress levels. The efficacy of the design strategy was assessed by comparing the valve dynamics and stress levels predicted numerically during the cycle with those of an existing and well qualified polymeric valve design. The improved hydrodynamic performance of the proposed design was confirmed experimentally, by in vitro testing in a pulse duplicator.
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