Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is characterized by pulmonary vascular remodeling resulting in right ventricular (RV) dysfunction and ultimately RV failure. Mechanical stimuli acting on the vessel walls of the full pulmonary tree have not previously been comprehensively characterized. The goal of this study is to characterize wall shear stress (WSS) and strain in pediatric PAH patients at different stages of disease severity using computational patient-specific modeling. Computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging and right heart catheterization data were collected and assimilated into pulmonary artery (PA) models for patients with and without PAH. Patients were grouped in three disease severity groups (control, moderate and severe) based on clinical evaluations. A finite element solver was employed to quantify hemodynamics and wall strains. To estimate WSS in the distal small PAs with diameters ranging from 50 to 500 [Formula: see text], a morphometric tree model was created, with inputs coming from outlets of the 3D model. WSS in the proximal PAs decreased with disease severity (control 20.5 vs. moderate 15.8 vs. severe 6.3 [Formula: see text], [Formula: see text]). Oscillatory shear index increased in the main pulmonary artery (MPA) with disease severity (0.13 vs. 0.13 vs. 0.2, [Formula: see text]). Wall strains measured by the first invariant of Green strain tensor decreased with disease severity (0.16 vs. 0.12 vs. 0.11, [Formula: see text]). Mean WSS for the distal PAs between 100 and 500 [Formula: see text] significantly increased with disease severity (20 vs. 52 vs. 116 [Formula: see text], [Formula: see text]). In conclusion, 3D flow simulations showed that WSS is significantly decreased in the MPA with disease while the mathematical morphometric model suggested increased WSS in the distal small vessels. Computational models can reveal mechanical stimuli acting on vessel walls that may inform patient risk stratification and flow shear experiments.
Keywords: Blood flow simulation; Distal pulmonary artery; Morphometry tree; Oscillatory shear index; Patient-specific modeling; Pulmonary arterial hypertension; Wall shear stress; Wall strain.