Size-dependent predilections of cardiogenic embolic transport

Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2013 Sep 1;305(5):H732-9. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00320.2013. Epub 2013 Jun 21.


While it is intuitively clear that aortic anatomy and embolus size could be important determinants for cardiogenic embolic stroke risk and stroke location, few data exist confirming or characterizing this hypothesis. The objective of this study is to use medical imaging and computational modeling to better understand if aortic anatomy and embolus size influence predilections for cardiogenic embolic transport and right vs. left hemisphere propensity. Anatomically accurate models of the human aorta and branch arteries to the head were reconstructed from computed tomography (CT) angiography of 10 patients. Blood flow was modeled by the Navier-Stokes equations using a well-validated flow solver with physiologic inflow and boundary conditions. Embolic particulate was released from the aortic root and tracked through the common carotid and vertebral arteries for a range of particle sizes. Cardiogenic emboli reaching the carotid and vertebral arteries appeared to have a strong size-destination relationship that varied markedly from expectations based on blood distribution. Observed trends were robust to modeling parameters. A patient's aortic anatomy appeared to significantly influence the probability a cardiogenic particle becomes embolic to the head. Right hemisphere propensity appeared dominant for cardiogenic emboli, which has been confirmed clinically. The predilections discovered through this modeling could represent an important mechanism underlying cardiogenic embolic stroke etiology.

Keywords: aorta; embolic stroke; hemodynamics; particle transport.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aorta / pathology*
  • Aorta / physiopathology
  • Aortography*
  • Carotid Arteries / physiopathology
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Embolism / diagnostic imaging*
  • Embolism / pathology*
  • Embolism / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Models, Cardiovascular
  • Regional Blood Flow / physiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke / epidemiology*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Vertebral Artery / physiopathology