Comprehensive validation of computational fluid dynamics simulations of in-vivo blood flow in patient-specific cerebral aneurysms

Med Phys. 2012 Feb;39(2):742-54. doi: 10.1118/1.3675402.


Purpose: Recently, image-based computational fluid dynamic (CFD) simulations have been proposed to investigate the local hemodynamics inside human cerebral aneurysms. It was suggested that the knowledge of the computed three-dimensional flow fields can be used to assist clinical risk assessment and treatment decision making. Therefore, it was desired to know the reliability of CFD for cerebral blood flow simulation, and be able to provide clinical feedback. However, the validations were not yet comprehensive as they lack either patient-specific boundary conditions (BCs) required for CFD simulations or quantitative comparison methods.

Methods: In this study, based on a recently proposed in-vitro quantitative CFD evaluation approach via virtual angiography, the CFD evaluation was extended from phantom to patient studies. In contrast to previous work, patient-specific blood flow rates obtained by transcranial color coded Doppler ultrasound measurements were used to impose CFD BCs. Virtual angiograms (VAs) were constructed which resemble clinically acquired angiograms (AAs). Quantitative measures were defined to thoroughly evaluate the correspondence of the detailed flow features between the AAs and the VAs, and thus, the reliability of CFD simulations.

Results: The proposed simulation pipeline provided a comprehensive validation method of CFD simulation for reproducing cerebral blood flow, with a focus on the aneurysm region. Six patient cases were tested and close similarities were found in terms of spatial and temporal variations of contrast agent (CA) distribution between AAs and VAs. For patient #1 to #5, discrepancies of less than 11% were found for the relative root mean square errors in time intensity curve comparisons from characteristic vasculature positions. For patient #6, where the CA concentration curve at vessel inlet cannot be directly extracted from the AAs and given as a BC, deviations about 20% were found.

Conclusions: As a conclusion, the reliability of the CFD simulations was well confirmed. Besides, it was shown that the accuracy of CFD simulations was closely related to the input BCs.

MeSH terms

  • Blood Flow Velocity
  • Cerebral Arteries / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebral Arteries / physiopathology*
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / physiopathology*
  • Models, Cardiovascular*
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler / methods*