Date of Award

Fall 2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

LaDisa, John F.

Second Advisor

Samyn, Margaret M.

Third Advisor

Cava, Joseph R.


The American Heart Association states about 2% of the general population have a bicuspid aortic valve (BAV). BAVs exist in 80% of patients with aortic coarctation (CoA) and likely influences flow patterns that contribute to long-term morbidity post-surgically. BAV patients tend to have larger ascending aortic diameters, increased risk of aneurysm formation, and require surgical intervention earlier than patients with a normal aortic valve. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has been used clinically to assess aortic arch morphology and blood flow in these patients. These MRI data have been used in computational fluid dynamics (CFD) studies to investigate potential adverse hemodynamics in these patients, yet few studies have attempted to characterize the impact of the aortic valve on ascending aortic hemodynamics.

To address this issue, this research sought to identify the impact of aortic valve morphology on hemodynamics in the ascending aorta and determine the location where the influence is negligible. Novel tools were developed to implement aortic valve morphology into CFD models and compensate for heart motion in MRI flow measurements acquired through the aortic valve. Hemodynamic metrics such as blood flow velocity, time-averaged wall shear stress (TAWSS), and turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) induced by the valve were compared to values obtained using the current plug inflow approach. The influence of heart motion on these metrics was also investigated, resulting in the underestimation of TAWSS and TKE when heart motion was neglected. CFD simulations of CoA patients exhibiting bicuspid and tricuspid aortic valves were performed in models including the aortic sinuses and patient-specific valves. Results indicated the aortic valve impacted hemodynamics primarily in the ascending aorta, with the BAV having the greatest influence along the outer right wall of the vessel. A marked increase in TKE is present in aortic valve simulations, particularly in BAV patients. These findings suggest that future CFD studies investigating altered hemodynamics in the ascending aorta should accurately replicate aortic valve morphology. Further, aortic valve disease impacts hemodynamics in the ascending aorta that may be a predictor of the development or progression of ascending aortic dilation and possible aneurysm formation in this region.