The hinge regions of the bileaflet mechanical heart valve (BMHV) can cause blood element damage due to nonphysiological shear stress levels and regions of flow stasis. Recently, a micro particle image velocimetry (μPIV) system was developed to study whole flow fields within BMHV hinge regions with enhanced spatial resolution under steady leakage flow conditions. However, global velocity maps under pulsatile conditions are still necessary to fully understand the blood damage potential of these valves. The current study hypothesized that the hinge gap width will affect flow fields in the hinge region. Accordingly, the blood damage potential of three St. Jude Medical (SJM) BMHVs with different hinge gap widths was investigated under pulsatile flow conditions, using a μPIV system. The results demonstrated that the hinge gap width had a significant influence during the leakage flow phase in terms of washout and shear stress characteristics. During the leakage flow, the largest hinge gap generated the highest Reynolds shear stress (RSS) magnitudes (∼1000 N/m2) among the three valves at the ventricular side of the hinge. At this location, all three valves indicated viscous shear stresses (VSS) greater than 30 N/m2. The smallest hinge gap exhibited the lowest level of shear stress values, but had the poorest washout flow characteristics among the three valves, demonstrating propensity for flow stasis and associated activated platelet accumulation potential. The results from this study indicate that the hinge is a critical component of the BMHV design, which needs to be optimized to find the appropriate balance between reduction in fluid shear stresses and enhanced washout during leakage flow, to ensure minimal thrombotic complications.