Determining the combined effect of the lymphatic valve leaflets and sinus on resistance to forward flow. Academic Article uri icon


  • The lymphatic system is vital to a proper maintenance of fluid and solute homeostasis. Collecting lymphatics are composed of actively contracting tubular vessels segmented by bulbous sinus regions that encapsulate bi-leaflet check valves. Valve resistance to forward flow strongly influences pumping performance. However, because of the sub-millimeter size of the vessels with flow rates typically <1 ml/h and pressures of a few cmH2O, resistance is difficult to measure experimentally. Using a newly defined idealized geometry, we employed an uncoupled approach where the solid leaflet deflections of the open valve were computed and lymph flow calculations were subsequently performed. We sought to understand: 1) the effect of sinus and leaflet size on the resulting deflections experienced by the valve leaflets and 2) the effects on valve resistance to forward flow of the fully open valve. For geometries with sinus-to-root diameter ratios >1.39, the average resistance to forward flow was 0.9510(6)[g/(cm4 s)]. Compared to the viscous pressure drop that would occur in a straight tube the same diameter as the upstream lymphangion, valve leaflets alone increase the pressure drop up to 35%. However, the presence of the sinus reduces viscous losses, with the net effect that when combined with leaflets the overall resistance is less than that of the equivalent continuing straight tube. Accurately quantifying resistance to forward flow will add to the knowledge used to develop therapeutics for treating lymphatic disorders and may eventually lead to understanding some forms of primary lymphedema.

published proceedings

  • J Biomech

altmetric score

  • 0.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Wilson, J. T., van Loon, R., Wang, W., Zawieja, D. C., & Moore, J. E.

citation count

  • 21

complete list of authors

  • Wilson, John T||van Loon, Raoul||Wang, Wei||Zawieja, David C||Moore, James E

publication date

  • October 2015