Computational study of pulsatile blood flow in prototype vessel geometries of coronary segments

Phys Med. 2010;26(3):140-56. doi: 10.1016/j.ejmp.2009.03.004. Epub 2010 Apr 18.


The spatial and temporal distributions of wall shear stress (WSS) in prototype vessel geometries of coronary segments are investigated via numerical simulation, and the potential association with vascular disease and specifically atherosclerosis and plaque rupture is discussed. In particular, simulation results of WSS spatio-temporal distributions are presented for pulsatile, non-Newtonian blood flow conditions for: (a) curved pipes with different curvatures, and (b) bifurcating pipes with different branching angles and flow division. The effects of non-Newtonian flow on WSS (compared to Newtonian flow) are found to be small at Reynolds numbers representative of blood flow in coronary arteries. Specific preferential sites of average low WSS (and likely atherogenesis) were found at the outer regions of the bifurcating branches just after the bifurcation, and at the outer-entry and inner-exit flow regions of the curved vessel segment. The drop in WSS was more dramatic at the bifurcating vessel sites (less than 5% of the pre-bifurcation value). These sites were also near rapid gradients of WSS changes in space and time - a fact that increases the risk of rupture of plaque likely to develop at these sites. The time variation of the WSS spatial distributions was very rapid around the start and end of the systolic phase of the cardiac cycle, when strong fluctuations of intravascular pressure were also observed. These rapid and strong changes of WSS and pressure coincide temporally with the greatest flexion and mechanical stresses induced in the vessel wall by myocardial motion (ventricular contraction). The combination of these factors may increase the risk of plaque rupture and thrombus formation at these sites.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Coronary Aneurysm / pathology
  • Coronary Aneurysm / physiopathology
  • Coronary Artery Disease / pathology
  • Coronary Artery Disease / physiopathology
  • Coronary Thrombosis / pathology
  • Coronary Thrombosis / physiopathology
  • Coronary Vessels / anatomy & histology*
  • Coronary Vessels / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Cardiovascular*
  • Myocardial Contraction / physiology
  • Periodicity
  • Platelet Aggregation / physiology
  • Regional Blood Flow / physiology*
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Time Factors
  • Ventricular Function / physiology