Computer simulation of local blood flow and vessel mechanics in a compliant carotid artery bifurcation model

J Biomech. 1995 Jul;28(7):845-56. doi: 10.1016/0021-9290(95)95273-8.


To investigate the effect of the distensible artery wall on the local flow field and to determine the mechanical stresses in the artery wall, a numerical model for the blood flow in the human carotid artery bifurcation has been developed. The wall displacement and stress analysis use geometrically non-linear shell theory where incrementally linearly elastic wall behavior is assumed. The flow analysis applies the time-dependent, three-dimensional, incompressible Navier-Stokes equations for non-Newtonian inelastic fluids. In an iteratively coupled approach the equations of the fluid motion and the transient shell equations are numerically solved using the finite element method. The study shows the occurring characteristics in carotid artery bifurcation flow, such as strongly skewed axial velocity in the carotid sinus with high velocity gradients at the internal divider wall and with flow separation at the outer common-internal carotid wall and at the bifurcation side wall. Flow separation results in locally low oscillating wall shear stress. Further strong secondary motion in the sinus is found. The comparison of the results for a rigid and a distensible wall model demonstrates quantitative influence of the vessel wall motion. With respect to the quantities of main interest, it can be seen, that flow separation and recirculation slightly decrease in the sinus and somewhat increase in the bifurcation side region, and the wall shear stress magnitude decreases by 25% in the distensible model. The global structure of the flow and stress patterns remains unchanged. The deformation analysis shows that the tangential displacements are generally lower by one order of magnitude than the normal directed displacements. The maximum deformation is about 16% of the vessel radius and occurs at the side wall region of the intersection of the two branches. The analysis of the maximum principal stresses at the inner vessel surface shows a complicated stress field with locally high gradients and indicates a stress concentration factor of 6.3 in the apex region.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Blood Flow Velocity
  • Blood Pressure
  • Blood Viscosity
  • Carotid Arteries / physiology*
  • Carotid Artery, Common / physiology
  • Carotid Artery, External / physiology
  • Carotid Artery, Internal / physiology
  • Carotid Sinus / physiology
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Elasticity
  • Hemorheology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Cardiovascular*
  • Regional Blood Flow
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Systole