Introduction: There is growing evidence that atherosclerosis, as well as endothelial biology, depend on arterial wall shear stress (WSS). Several methods of WSS calculation with varying degrees of complexity have been proposed. This study aimed at investigating whether the most straightforward and easier to apply of these methods give comparable results in clinical practice.
Methods: Complete velocity encoding measurements using phase contrast magnetic resonance imaging were performed in 20 patients at a level perpendicular to the long axis of the ascending aorta approximately 2cm above the aortic valve. WSS was calculated at this location on maximum systole. MR imaging was accomplished on a 1.5T scanner. Four methods were applied to calculate WSS; three of them are based on the predictions of Poiseuille's theory of flow, while the last one is based on calculations resulting by the application of the definition of WSS.
Results: WSS calculated with the above mentioned methods was found to be in the range 4.2+/-1.8 to 3.5+/-1.7dynes/m(2). The velocity profile at the site of measurements can be described with a parabolic equation of the form u=ar(2)+br+c with an average r(2)=0.83, which is in good agreement with Poiseuille's theory of flow. Comparison of the results shows no statistically significant differences between WSS measurements calculated with these methods.
Discussion: The four methods are equivalent in calculating WSS at the ascending aorta when blood flow velocities have a good parabolic distribution.