Aortic pathologies such as coarctation, dissection, and aneurysm represent a
particularly emergent class of cardiovascular diseases and account for significant cardiovascular morbidity and mortality worldwide. Computational simulations of aortic flows are growing increasingly important as tools for gaining understanding of these pathologies and for planning their surgical repair. In vitro experiments are required to validate these simulations against real world data, and a pulsatile flow pump system can provide physiologic flow conditions characteristic of the aorta.
This dissertation presents improved experimental techniques for in vitro aortic blood flow and the increasingly larger parts of the human cardiovascular system. Specifically, this work develops new flow management and measurement techniques for cardiovascular flow experiments with the aim to improve clinical evaluation and treatment planning of aortic diseases.
The hypothesis of this research is that transient flow driven by a step change in volume flux in a piston-based pulsatile flow pump system behaves differently from transient flow driven by a step change in pressure gradient, the development time being substantially reduced in the former. Due to this difference in behavior, the response to a piston-driven pump can be predicted in order to establish inlet velocity and flow waveforms at a downstream phantom model.
The main objectives of this dissertation were: 1) to design, construct, and validate a piston-based flow pump system for aortic flow experiments, 2) to characterize temporal and spatial development of start-up flows driven by a piston pump that produces a step change from zero flow to a constant volume flux in realistic (finite) tube geometries for physiologic Reynolds numbers, and 3) to develop a method to predict downstream velocity and flow waveforms at the inlet of an aortic phantom model and determine the input waveform needed to achieve the intended waveform at the test section. Application of these newly improved flow management tools and measurement techniques were then demonstrated through in vitro experiments in patient-specific coarctation of aorta flow phantom models manufactured in-house and compared to computational simulations to inform and execute future experiments and simulations.