A new mechanism for quantifying the filling energetics in the left ventricle (LV) and past mechanical heart valves (MHV) is identified and presented. This mechanism is attributed to vortex formation dynamics past MHV leaflets. Recent studies support the conjecture that the natural healthy left ventricle (LV) performs in an optimum, energy-preserving manner by redirecting the flow with high efficiency. Yet to date, no quantitative proof has been presented. The present work provides quantitative results and validation of a theory based on the dynamics of vortex ring formation, which is governed by a critical formation number (FN) that corresponds to the dimensionless time at which the vortex ring has reached its maximum circulation content, in support of this hypothesis. Herein, several parameters (vortex ring circulation, vortex ring energy, critical FN, hydrodynamic efficiencies, vortex ring propagation speed) have been quantified and presented as a means of bridging the physics of vortex formation in the LV. In fact, the diastolic hydrodynamic efficiencies were found to be 60, 41, and 29%, respectively, for the porcine, anti-anatomical, and anatomical valve configurations. This assessment provides quantitative proof of vortex formation, which is dependent of valve design and orientation, being an important flow characteristic and associated to LV energetics. Time resolved digital particle image velocimetry with kilohertz sampling rate was used to study the ejection of fluid into the LV and resolve the spatiotemporal evolution of the flow. The clinical significance of this study is quantifying vortex formation and the critical FN that can potentially serve as a parameter to quantify the LV filling process and the performance of heart valves.

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