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Ann Biomed Eng. 2015 Jan;43(1):139-53. doi: 10.1007/s10439-014-1224-0. Epub 2014 Dec 20.

Progression of abdominal aortic aneurysm towards rupture: refining clinical risk assessment using a fully coupled fluid-structure interaction method.

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Department of Mathematics, University of Ioannina, Ioannina, Greece.


Rupture of abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is associated with high mortality rates. Risk of rupture is multi-factorial involving AAA geometric configuration, vessel tortuosity, and the presence of intraluminal pathology. Fluid structure interaction (FSI) simulations were conducted in patient based computed tomography scans reconstructed geometries in order to monitor aneurysmal disease progression from normal aortas to non-ruptured and contained ruptured AAA (rAAA), and the AAA risk of rupture was assessed. Three groups of 8 subjects each were studied: 8 normal and 16 pathological (8 non-ruptured and 8 rAAA). The AAA anatomical structures segmented included the blood lumen, intraluminal thrombus (ILT), vessel wall, and embedded calcifications. The vessel wall was described with anisotropic material model that was matched to experimental measurements of AAA tissue specimens. A statistical model for estimating the local wall strength distribution was employed to generate a map of a rupture potential index (RPI), representing the ratio between the local stress and local strength distribution. The FSI simulations followed a clear trend of increasing wall stresses from normal to pathological cases. The maximal stresses were observed in the areas where the ILT was not present, indicating a potential protective effect of the ILT. Statistically significant differences were observed between the peak systolic stress and the peak stress at the mean arterial pressure between the three groups. For the ruptured aneurysms, where the geometry of intact aneurysm was reconstructed, results of the FSI simulations clearly depicted maximum wall stress at the a priori known location of rupture. The RPI mapping indicated several distinct regions of high RPI coinciding with the actual location of rupture. The FSI methodology demonstrates that the aneurysmal disease can be described by numerical simulations, as indicated by a clear trend of increasing aortic wall stresses in the studied groups, (normal aortas, AAAs and rAAAs). Ultimately, the results demonstrate that FSI wall stress mapping and RPI can be used as a tool for predicting the potential rupture of an AAA by predicting the actual rupture location, complementing current clinical practice by offering a predictive diagnostic tool for deciding whether to intervene surgically or spare the patient from an unnecessary risky operation.

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