The fluid dynamics of a natural aortic valve are complicated due to the highly pulsatile flow conditions, the compliant wall boundaries, and the sophisticated geometry of the aortic root. In the present study, a pulsatile flow simulator was constructed and utilized to investigate the turbulent characteristics and structural deformation of an intact silicone aortic root model under different flow inputs. Particle image velocimetry and high-frequency pressure sensors were combined to gather the pulsatile flow field information. The results demonstrated the distributions and the variations of the jet flow structures at different phases of a cardiac cycle. High turbulence kinetic energy was observed after the peak systole phase when the flow started to decelerate. Deformations of the aortic root upstream and downstream of the valve leaflets under normal boundary conditions were summarized and found to be comparable to results from clinical studies. The cardiac output plays an important role in determining the strength of hemodynamic and structural responses. A reduction in cardiac outputs resulted in a lower post-systole turbulence, smaller circumferential deformation, a smaller geometric orifice area, and a shortened valve-opening period.
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