Structural design of a stent for a percutaneous aortic heart valve

Esterhuyse, Anton (2009-03)

Thesis (MScEng (Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering))--University of Stellenbosch, 2009.


Elderly patients suffering from aortic valvular dysfunction are often denied aortic valve replacement due to the fact that they are classified as too old and fragile to handle the physical stress of open-heart surgery and cardio-pulmonary bypass. There exists a need for an alternative solution which places less physical stress on the body. The development of a percutaneous aortic heart valve (PAHV), which may be implanted through a minimally invasive procedure, will provide a solution to old and fragile patients who otherwise have a very limited life expectancy. The development of such a device entails a costly and time-consuming process which involves a number of phases, including a prototype development phase, an in-vitro testing phase, an animal trial phase and a human trial phase. This thesis focuses on the design and analysis of the stent component for a PAHV, suitable for implantation in sheep (animal trial phase). The process of developing a first prototype, involved an analysis of the stent design requirements. This analysis was followed by a concept generation phase as well as comprehensive finite element (FE) analyses of the most promising concepts. The objective of the FE analyses was to determine the effects of a variation in strut width on the performance characteristics of the concepts. Based on the results of the FE analyses, final geometries were selected for each of the two most promising concepts. Subsequent to the selection of the final geometries, a number of prototypes were manufactured. The prototypes were subjected to an electro-polishing process. An experimental analysis was also conducted on the prototypes to evaluate the accuracy of the (FE) simulations as well as the actual performance of the stent prototypes. The results of the FE analyses and experimental analyses indicated that strut width had a substantial influence on the parameters that were defined to characterise stent performance. The results of the analyses also highlighted the advantages and disadvantages of each concept and aided in identifying the concept that would be most suitable for the required application. Limitations of the study were identified and recommendations were made to assist the continued research and development of the device.

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