Can vortices in the flow across mechanical heart valves contribute to cavitation?

I. Avrahami, M. Rosenfeld, S. Einav, M. Eichler, H. Reul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Cavitation in mechanical heart valves is traditionally attributed to the hammer effect and to squeeze and clearance flow occurring at the moment of valve closure. In the present study, an additional factor is considered - the contribution of vortex flow. Using a computational fluid dynamics analysis of a 2D model of a tilting disk mitral valve, we demonstrate that vortices may form in the vicinity of the inflow side of the valve. These vortices roll up from shear layers emanating from the valve tips during regurgitation. A significant decrease in the pressure at the centre of the vortices is found. The contribution of the vortex to the total pressure drop at the instant of closure is of the order of 70 mmHg. Adding this figure to the other pressure drop sources that reach 670 mmHg, it might be that this is the deciding factor that causes the drop in blood pressure below vapour pressure. The total pressure drop near the upper tip (750 mmHg) is larger than near the lower tip (670 mmHg), indicating a preferential location for cavitation inception, in agreement with existing experimental findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-97
Number of pages5
JournalMedical and Biological Engineering and Computing
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • CFD
  • Cavitation
  • Flow field
  • Mechanical heart valves
  • Navier-Stokes equations
  • Vortices


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