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J Biomech. 1992 Nov;25(11):1303-10.

Relation between diameter and flow in major branches of the arch of the aorta.

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Department of Applied Mathematics, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada.


In the analysis of arterial branching the classical "cube law' has provided a working model for the relation between the diameter of a blood vessel and the flow which the vessel carries on a long-term basis. The law has shown good agreement with biological data, but questions remain regarding its applicability to all levels of the arterial tree. The present study tests the hypothesis that the cube law may not be valid in the first few generations of the arterial tree, where vessel capacitance and gross anatomy may play important roles. Biological data have shown some support for this hypothesis in the past but the heterogeneity characteristic of past data has not allowed a conclusive test so far. We present new data which have been obtained from the same location on the arterial tree and in sufficient number to make this test possible for the first time. Also, while past tests have been based primarily on correlation of the measured data with an assumed power law, we show here that this can be misleading. The present data allow a simpler test which does not involve correlation and which leads to more direct conclusions. For the vessels surveyed, the results show unequivocally that the relation between diameter and flow is governed by a 'square law' rather than the classical cube law. Coupled with past findings this suggests that the square law may apply at the first few levels of the arterial tree, while the cube law continues from there to perhaps the precapillary levels.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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