The present study examines the local shear stress distribution occurring during flow through prosthetic valves. The electrochemical technique is a powerful tool for the study of mass transfer related phenomena and was selected for this investigation. The present investigation attempts to establish the viability of the particular application of the technique. Three test section geometries were analyzed: a straight tube, a ball-in-cage valve, and a model disk-in-cage valve, and the tests were conducted at six Reynolds numbers ranging from 1000 to 6000 under steady-state conditions. The model disk valve provided a base-case check on the validity of the technique since it has been employed in several previous studies and the flow through it is well documented. High shear and low shear regions are clearly evident and their locations can be pinpointed. The ball-in-cage valve was tested over the full range of Reynolds numbers. The shear profiles demonstrate a double peak in the region of the ball, a result which was unexpected. Careful study revealed that this was a result of the test section geometry and provides another demonstration of the importance of test section geometry. The frequency of the fluctuations in wall shear for the ball valve were found to be different than those for the disk valve indicating that the environment at the aortic wall is definitely affected by valve design. This study showed the electrochemical technique to be a valuable tool for the study of the flow through prosthetic heart valves.

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