One of the greatest advances in the treatment of cardiac disease in the last 15 years has been the development of practical and clinically successful prosthetic valves. In this monograph, Sauvage and his coauthors have reviewed in detail the structural mechanics and hydraulics of the normal and diseased aortic valve with a view towards understanding the necessary requisites for developing a satisfactory prosthetic replacement. By measurement and experiment, the mathematics are developed that illustrate how marvelously well the design of the normal aortic valve suits the function it serves.
Because of the beauty and simplicity of the natural aortic valve, first attempts at developing a prosthetic valve were directed at duplicating the central flow, mechanically perfect design. These attempts have been frustrated by the lack of a material that will withstand the interminable (60 × 60 × 24 × 365 × 3 score and 10) flexing without fatigue and failure.