High-frequency flow fluctuations in intracranial aneurysms have previously been reported in vitro and in vivo. On the other hand, the vast majority of image-based computational fluid dynamics (CFD) studies of cerebral aneurysms report periodic, laminar flow. We have previously demonstrated that transitional flow, consistent with in vivo reports, can occur in a middle cerebral artery (MCA) bifurcation aneurysm when ultra-high-resolution direct numerical simulation methods are applied. The object of the present study was to investigate if such high-frequency flow fluctuations might be more widespread in adequately-resolved CFD models. A sample of N=12 anatomically realistic MCA aneurysms (five unruptured, seven ruptured), was digitally segmented from CT angiograms. Four were classified as sidewall aneurysms, the other eight as bifurcation aneurysms. Transient CFD simulations were carried out assuming a steady inflow velocity of 0.5m/s, corresponding to typical peak systolic conditions at the MCA. To allow for detection of clinically-reported high-frequency flow fluctuations and resulting flow structures, temporal and spatial resolutions of the CFD simulations were in the order of 0.1 ms and 0.1 mm, respectively. A transient flow response to the stationary inflow conditions was found in five of the 12 aneurysms, with energetic fluctuations up to 100 Hz, and in one case up to 900 Hz. Incidentally, all five were ruptured bifurcation aneurysms, whereas all four sidewall aneurysms, including one ruptured case, quickly reached a stable, steady state solution. Energetic, rapid fluctuations may be overlooked in CFD models of bifurcation aneurysms unless adequate temporal and spatial resolutions are used. Such fluctuations may be relevant to the mechanobiology of aneurysm rupture, and to a recently reported dichotomy between predictors of rupture likelihood for bifurcation vs. sidewall aneurysms.
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