Aortic pathologies such as coarctation, dissection, and aneurysm represent a particularly emergent class of cardiovascular diseases. Computational simulations of aortic flows are growing increasingly important as tools for gaining understanding of these pathologies, as well as for planning their surgical repair. In vitro experiments are required to validate the simulations against real world data, and the experiments require a pulsatile flow pump system that can provide physiologic flow conditions characteristic of the aorta. We designed a newly capable piston-based pulsatile flow pump system that can generate high volume flow rates (850 mL/s), replicate physiologic waveforms, and pump high viscosity fluids against large impedances. The system is also compatible with a broad range of fluid types, and is operable in magnetic resonance imaging environments. Performance of the system was validated using image processing-based analysis of piston motion as well as particle image velocimetry. The new system represents a more capable pumping solution for aortic flow experiments than other available designs, and can be manufactured at a relatively low cost.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)148-158
Number of pages11
JournalCardiovascular Engineering and Technology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016


  • Aorta
  • Blood flow
  • Flow loop
  • Heart valves
  • Physiological waveform
  • Piston pump
  • Pulsatile flow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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