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Ann Vasc Surg. 2006 May;20(3):351-9. Epub 2006 May 19.

Flow dynamics in expansions characterizing abdominal aorta aneurysms.

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  • 1Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas, Institute of Applied and Computational Mathematics, Heraklion, Greece.


Our purpose was to identify and quantify hemodynamic factors contributing to the generation, proliferation, and rupturing of abdominal aorta aneurysms (AAAs) using a computational investigation of steady laminar and turbulent flow in AAA models. Steady laminar and turbulent flows were computed using the incompressible Navier-Stokes equations. Flow fields in symmetric shapes of different extents and degrees of expansion are presented first. Two representative cases of asymmetric AAAs are considered next: an aneurysm with an elliptic cross section and an aneurysm with preferential expansion in one direction. For symmetric aneurysms, parametric studies are presented. For asymmetric aneurysms, flow fields are computed only for high flow rates representative of systolic flow. For all cases, a recirculating flow region was found in the expanded part of the AAA. Recirculation is accompanied by a minor increase in pressure but a significant increase in wall shear stress. For cases where turbulent flow was considered, it was found that the recirculation zone diminishes but the computed wall shear stress reaches levels higher than laminar flow. The levels of wall shear stress reached in turbulent flow may cause lesions of the aneurysmal wall. The minor variation of pressure within the aneurysms with smooth expansions indicates that the structural properties of the arterial wall tissue may play a significant role for the generation and subsequent proliferation of the aneurysm. However, the high values of the wall shear stress in AAAs appear to be an important hemodynamic factor that may contribute to wall degeneration and eventual rupturing. The recirculating flow in AAAs may explain the generation of intraluminal thrombi. Furthermore, the asymmetry and complexity of the flow in asymmetric AAAs may explain the frequently observed asymmetric thrombi distribution.

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