Stability of pulsatile blood flow at the ostium of cerebral aneurysms

J Biomech. 2009 May 29;42(8):1081-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2009.02.029. Epub 2009 Apr 23.


The strength and direction of blood flow into and within a cerebral aneurysm are important issues in developing effective interventional strategies to stabilize the aneurysm. We tested the hypothesis that there are significant major hemodynamic features that are common to many aneurysm flows of the type studied here. This was investigated by performing computational fluid dynamic simulations of flow near 7 cerebral aneurysms using geometrical data obtained from clinical CT scans. Our numerical simulations of flow across the ostium plane of an aneurysm show that in many cases there is relatively stable flow structure that is maintained over the phase of the pulsatile flow cycle. The two main features of this flow are (1) quasi-permanent regions of flow influx and efflux across the ostium plane exist, separated by a "virtual boundary", and (2) a helical vortex flow pattern within the aneurismal sac with swirl in two orthogonal cross-sectional planes. These numerical observations are consistent with in vitro experimental data from ultrasound color-Doppler velocimetry and other numerical and experimental studies. The observed flow patterns are found to occur in different types of aneurysms (bifurcation and sidewall), and can persist even after flow parameters are perturbed beyond the normal range of physiological flow conditions. These results suggest that in many cases, major aspects of the behavior of aneurismal hemodynamics for important classes of aneurysms can be learned from an analysis of steady, non-pulsatile flow, which is simpler and faster to simulate than time-dependent, pulsatile flow. An understanding of this fluid dynamical behavior may also prove useful in the design of stents, coils, and various other endovascular flow diverting devices.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Blood Flow Velocity
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / physiopathology*
  • Models, Cardiovascular
  • Pulsatile Flow / physiology
  • Regional Blood Flow / physiology
  • Shear Strength / physiology