Shear Stress Related Blood Damage in Laminar Couette Flow


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Abstract: Artificial organs within the blood stream are generally associated with flow-induced blood damage, particularly hemolysis of red blood cells. These damaging effects are known to be dependent on shear forces and exposure times. The determination of a correlation between these flow-dependent properties and actual hemolysis is the subject of this study. For this purpose, a Couette device has been developed. A fluid seal based on fluorocarbon is used to separate blood from secondary external damage effects. The shear rate within the gap is controlled by the rotational speed of the inner cylinder, and the exposure time by the amount of blood that is axially pumped through the device per given time. Blood damage is quantified by the index of hemolysis (IH), which is calculated from photometric plasma hemoglobin measurements. Experiments are conducted at exposure times from texp=25 − 1250 ms and shear rates ranging from τ=30 up to 450 Pa ensuring Taylor-vortex free flow characteristics. Blood damage is remarkably low over a broad range of shear rates and exposure times. However, a significant increase in blood damage can be observed for shear stresses of τ≥ 425 Pa and exposure times of texp≥ 620 ms. Maximum hemolysis within the investigated range is IH=3.5%. The results indicate generally lower blood damage than reported in earlier studies with comparable devices, and the measurements clearly indicate a rather abrupt (i.e., critical levels of shear stresses and exposure times) than gradual increase in hemolysis, at least for the investigated range of shear rates and exposure times.