The performance of four 25 mm bileaflet valves of different designs was evaluated in the mitral position of our own pulse simulator. With the aid of a high-speed video camera, it was demonstrated that both the St. Jude Medical (SJM) valve (Hemodynamic Plus [HP] Series, St. Jude Medical, Inc., St. Paul, MN, U.S.A.) and the CM valve (CarboMedics, Inc., Austin, TX, U.S.A.) were able to open fully and that the CM valve fluttered much more vigorously at the fully open position than did the SJM HP valve. Conversely, neither the ATS valve (ATS Medical, Inc., Minneapolis, MN, U.S.A.) nor the On-X valve (Medical Carbon Research Institute, Austin, TX, U.S.A.) exhibited movement to a fully open configuration. The overall average opening angles of the ATS and the On-X, on 3, 4, and 5 L/min flow rate for a heart rate of 70 bpm and 5, 6, and 7 L/min for 100 bpm, were 74.8 degrees and 81.6 degrees, respectively, whereas their design opening angles were 85 degrees and 90 degrees. Pressure drops across the CM and the ATS were consistently higher than those of the On-X and the SJM HP. Closing volumes for all the valves were below 8% for a heart rate of 70 bpm. This in vitro investigation yielded the following conclusions: The ATS and On-X valves are not able to open fully in the mitral position, but this does not impair their normal function; both a larger orifice diameter and a large opening angle can decrease the pressure drop; in general, the On-X valve achieves its design goals in this experiment (i.e., it produces a lower pressure drop and lower closing volume by virtue of its large orifice and high-profile design); however, the hinge flow in the non-fully open state should be investigated further.
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