The cumulative and sublethal effects of turbulence on erythrocytes in a stirred-tank model

Abdulhameed Aziz, Brian C. Werner, Kevin L. Epting, Christopher D. Agosti, Wayne R. Curtis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Mechanical forces generated by prosthetic heart devices (artificial valves, artificial hearts, ventricular assist devices) have been known to cause damage and destruction of erythrocytes. Turbulent flow within such devices generates shear stresses and can induce cell damage. Current models of cell damage rate utilize only the power input per unit mass as a modeling parameter. A stirred-tank reactor provides for a more extensive characterization of turbulence through eddy scale calculations. Through a simplified model, turbulence can be characterized by evaluating the Kolmogorov microscale. Our analysis of erythrocyte rupture in a stirred tank reactor suggests that parameters such as eddy wavelength and eddy velocity may better characterize and model the turbulent damage. Further, hemolysis of red blood cells by turbulent effects has been shown to have a fixed rate for constant levels of power input. Damage inflicted on the remaining, intact erythrocytes (sublethal damage) was evaluated by exposure to turbulence followed by osmotic fragility (OF) testing. Logistic models were fit to the OF data indicating a significant osmotic sensitivity in the sublethal damaged population between control and turbulence-exposed cells (χ 2 test; p < 0.001). This susceptibility indicates a significant cell population more susceptible to destruction as a result of turbulent exposure. This work has therefore helped identify optimization parameters for evaluating cell damage potential when engineering cardiovascular prosthetic devices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2108-2120
Number of pages13
JournalAnnals of Biomedical Engineering
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biomedical Engineering


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