Study of the effect of stenosis severity and non-Newtonian viscosity on multidirectional wall shear stress and flow disturbances in the carotid artery using particle image velocimetry

Med Eng Phys. 2019 Mar:65:8-23. doi: 10.1016/j.medengphy.2018.12.023. Epub 2019 Feb 8.


The development of atherosclerosis at the carotid bifurcation is impacted by local variations in wall shear stress (WSS) magnitude and direction, as well as flow complexity within the vessel. In this study, stereoscopic particle image velocimetry (PIV) was used to investigate multidirectional WSS and disturbed flow for idealized models of the carotid bifurcation with varying eccentric stenosis of the internal carotid artery (ICA) and both Newtonian (N-fluid) and non-Newtonian (nN-fluid) blood analogues. Turbulence intensity (TI) was reduced with the nN-fluid compared to N-fluid for mild to moderate stenosis, and comparable for more severely stenosed (70%) models. Differences in maximum TI due to viscosity model ranged from 0.02 m/s to 0.06 m/s compared to much larger differences due to geometry of up to 0.29 m/s between mild and severe stenosis. The level of time-averaged WSS (TAWSS) increased with stenosis severity from 5 Pa to 32 Pa, and nN-fluid led to higher WSS on average than N-fluid counterparts. Regions of elevated oscillatory shear index (OSI) demarcated recirculation regions, and mean OSI in the ICA branch was reduced for nN-fluid models by 9-19% compared to N-fluid. Transverse WSS (transWSS) increased with WSS magnitude and again was higher in nN-fluid models. Surface area exposure to shear metrics indicated that a Newtonian viscosity assumption predicted larger regions of low and oscillatory WSS, while predicting reduced regions of high transWSS, in comparison to the more physiological shear thinning fluid.

Keywords: Atherosclerosis; Blood analogue fluid; Carotid bifurcation; Non-Newtonian fluid; Oscillatory shear index; Shear-thinning; Stenosis severity; Stereoscopic particle image velocimetry; Transverse wall shear stress; Turbulence intensity; Wall shear stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Carotid Arteries / physiopathology*
  • Constriction, Pathologic / physiopathology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Rheology*
  • Shear Strength*
  • Stress, Mechanical*
  • Viscosity