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J Biomech. 2000 Feb;33(2):137-44.

Hemodynamics in the carotid artery bifurcation: a comparison between numerical simulations and in vitro MRI measurements.

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Institute of Biomedical Engineering, University of Zurich and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.


The presence of atherosclerotic plaques has been shown to be closely related to the vessel geometry. Studies on postmortem human arteries and on the experimental animal show positive correlation between the presence of plaque thickness and low shear stress, departure of unidirectional flow and regions of flow separation and recirculation. Numerical simulations of arterial blood flow and direct blood flow velocity measurements by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are two approaches for the assessment of arterial blood flow patterns. In order to verify that both approaches give equivalent results magnetic resonance velocity data measured in a compliant anatomical carotid bifurcation model were compared to the results of numerical simulations performed for a corresponding computational vessel model. Cross sectional axial velocity profiles were calculated and measured for the midsinus and endsinus internal carotid artery. At both locations a skewed velocity profile with slow velocities at the outer vessel wall, medium velocities at the side walls and high velocities at the flow divider (inner) wall were observed. Qualitative comparison of the axial velocity patterns revealed no significant differences between simulations and in vitro measurements. Even quantitative differences such as for axial peak flow velocities were less than 10%. Secondary flow patterns revealed some minor differences concerning the form of the vortices but maximum circumferential velocities were in the same range for both methods.

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