Numerical simulations of flow in cerebral aneurysms: comparison of CFD results and in vivo MRI measurements

J Biomech Eng. 2008 Oct;130(5):051011. doi: 10.1115/1.2970056.


Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) methods can be used to compute the velocity field in patient-specific vascular geometries for pulsatile physiological flow. Those simulations require geometric and hemodynamic boundary values. The purpose of this study is to demonstrate that CFD models constructed from patient-specific magnetic resonance (MR) angiography and velocimetry data predict flow fields that are in good agreement with in vivo measurements and therefore can provide valuable information for clinicians. The effect of the inlet flow rate conditions on calculated velocity fields was investigated. We assessed the internal consistency of our approach by comparing CFD predictions of the in-plane velocity field to the corresponding in vivo MR velocimetry measurements. Patient-specific surface models of four basilar artery aneurysms were constructed from contrast-enhanced MR angiography data. CFD simulations were carried out in those models using patient-specific flow conditions extracted from MR velocity measurements of flow in the inlet vessels. The simulation results computed for slices through the vasculature of interest were compared with in-plane velocity measurements acquired with phase-contrast MR imaging in vivo. The sensitivity of the flow fields to inlet flow ratio variations was assessed by simulating five different inlet flow scenarios for each of the basilar aneurysm models. In the majority of cases, altering the inlet flow ratio caused major changes in the flow fields predicted in the aneurysm. A good agreement was found between the flow fields measured in vivo using the in-plane MR velocimetry technique and those predicted with CFD simulations. The study serves to demonstrate the consistency and reliability of both MR imaging and numerical modeling methods. The results demonstrate the clinical relevance of computational models and suggest that realistic patient-specific flow conditions are required for numerical simulations of the flow in aneurysmal blood vessels.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Blood Flow Velocity*
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / pathology
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / physiopathology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Models, Cardiovascular*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity