An introduction to wave intensity analysis

Med Biol Eng Comput. 2009 Feb;47(2):175-88. doi: 10.1007/s11517-009-0439-y. Epub 2009 Feb 11.


Wave intensity analysis applies methods first used to study gas dynamics to cardiovascular haemodynamics. It is based on the method of characteristics solution of the 1-D equations derived from the conservation of mass and momentum in elastic vessels. The measured waveforms of pressure P and velocity U are described as the summation of successive wavefronts that propagate forward and backward through the vessels with magnitudes dP (+/-) and dU (+/-). The net wave intensity dPdU is the flux of energy per unit area carried by the wavefronts. It is positive for forward waves and negative for backward waves, providing a convenient tool for quantifying the timing, direction and magnitude of waves. Two methods, the PU-loop and the sum of squares, are given for calculating the wave speed c from simultaneous measurements of P and U at a single location. Given c, it is possible to separate the waveforms into their forward and backward components. Finally, the reservoir-wave hypothesis that the arterial and venous pressure can be conveniently thought of as the sum of a reservoir pressure arising from the total compliance of the vessels (the Windkessel effect) and the pressure associated with the waves is discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Clocks
  • Cardiovascular Physiological Phenomena
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Hemodynamics / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Cardiovascular*