ARTORG Center, University of Bern | Heart-valve research

Pushing the limits of optical flow diagnostics for the
research on aortic valve replacement.

The ARTORG Center for Biomedical Engineering Research at the University of Bern, Switzerland, brings together researchers from various biomedical engineering backgrounds and clinical departments. It hosts 7 research groups in fields ranging from technology research for novel medical devices and simulation of biological and physiological processes to application of nanotechnology.

The longevity of heart valve prostheses is an important design goal in an ageing society. A thorough understanding of the hemodynamics of heart valves is indispensable for the design of more durable and better performing devices. ARTORG decided to invest strategically in cutting-edge optical measurement technology and be the first group capable of generating the fully 3D velocity data of aortic heart valves that is offered by tomographic Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV). When the technological boundaries need to be pushed, justifying such important investments is never easy. With its expertise in optical diagnostics, streamwise was able to support ARTORG critically by confirming the overall feasibility and the layout of the testbed.


Based on our exchange with the technicians on the supplier’s side, the available literature, and our experience, we were able to confirm the basic feasibility early on. To use the components to their full potential, we devised an innovative optical and fluid dynamics concept. Based on the overall layout, the hardware requirements were specified and components were selected. For the design of the computer-controlled pulse replicator that reproduces the complex profiles of pressure and flow of a heartbeat, an analytical model of the unsteady fluid and mechanical forces and was derived.


Based on our recommendations, the measurement system was purchased, and the pump system was built to our specifications. Both the researchers at ARTORG and the component suppliers did a fantastic job and pushed the limits of the technology. A cutting-edge testbed is now at the disposal of the research group to push the limits of prosthetic heart valve design.