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J Biomech Eng. 2001 Apr;123(2):134-44.

Requirements for mesh resolution in 3D computational hemodynamics.

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Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M 5S 3G8.


Computational techniques are widely used for studying large artery hemodynamics. Current trends favor analyzing flow in more anatomically realistic arteries. A significant obstacle to such analyses is generation of computational meshes that accurately resolve both the complex geometry and the physiologically relevant flow features. Here we examine, for a single arterial geometry, how velocity and wall shear stress patterns depend on mesh characteristics. A well-validated Navier-Stokes solver was used to simulate flow in an anatomically realistic human right coronary artery (RCA) using unstructured high-order tetrahedral finite element meshes. Velocities, wall shear stresses (WSS), and wall shear stress gradients were computed on a conventional "high-resolution" mesh series (60,000 to 160,000 velocity nodes) generated with a commercial meshing package. Similar calculations were then performed in a series of meshes generated through an adaptive mesh refinement (AMR) methodology. Mesh-independent velocity fields were not very difficult to obtain for both the conventional and adaptive mesh series. However, wall shear stress fields, and, in particular, wall shear stress gradient fields, were much more difficult to accurately resolve. The conventional (nonadaptive) mesh series did not show a consistent trend towards mesh-independence of WSS results. For the adaptive series, it required approximately 190,000 velocity nodes to reach an r.m.s. error in normalized WSS of less than 10 percent. Achieving mesh-independence in computed WSS fields requires a surprisingly large number of nodes, and is best approached through a systematic solution-adaptive mesh refinement technique. Calculations of WSS, and particularly WSS gradients, show appreciable errors even on meshes that appear to produce mesh-independent velocity fields.

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