Experimental investigation of the flow of a blood analogue fluid in a replica of a bifurcated small artery

Med Eng Phys. 2012 Mar;34(2):211-8. doi: 10.1016/j.medengphy.2011.07.012. Epub 2011 Aug 6.


The scope of this work is to study the pulsatile flow of a blood mimicking fluid in a micro channel that simulates a bifurcated small artery, in which the Fahraeus-Lindqvist effect is insignificant. An aqueous glycerol solution with small amounts of xanthan gum was used for simulating viscoelastic properties of blood and in vivo flow conditions were reproduced. Local flow velocities were measured using micro Particle Image Velocimetry (μ-PIV). From the measured velocity distributions, the wall shear stress (WSS) and its variation during a pulse were estimated. The Reynolds numbers employed are relatively low, i.e. similar to those prevailing during blood flow in small arteries. Experiments both with a Newtonian and a non-Newtonian fluid (having asymptotic viscosity equal to the viscosity of the Newtonian one) proved that the common assumption that blood behaves as a Newtonian fluid is not valid for blood flow in small arteries. It was also shown that the outer wall of the bifurcation, which is exposed to a lower WSS, is more predisposed to atherosclerotic plaque formation. Moreover, this region in small vessels is shorter than the one in large arteries, as the developed secondary flow decays faster. Finally, the WSS values in small arteries were found to be lower than those in large ones.

MeSH terms

  • Arteries / physiology*
  • Biomimetic Materials*
  • Blood Circulation*
  • Humans
  • Pulsatile Flow*
  • Stress, Mechanical