Pulsatile flow in the human left coronary artery bifurcation: average conditions

J Biomech Eng. 1996 Feb;118(1):74-82. doi: 10.1115/1.2795948.


The localization of atherosclerosis in the coronary arteries may be governed by local hemodynamic features. In this study, the pulsatile hemodynamics of the left coronary artery bifurcation was numerically simulated using the spectral element method for realistic in vivo anatomic and physiologic conditions. The velocity profiles were found to be skewed in both the left anterior descending and the circumflex coronary arteries. Velocity skewing arose from the bifurcation as well as from the curvature of the artery over the myocardial surface. Arterial wall shear stress was significantly lower in the bifurcation region, including the side walls. The greatest oscillatory behavior was localized to the outer wall of the circumflex artery. The time-averaged mean wall shear stress varied from about 3 to 98 dynes/cm2 in the left coronary artery system. The highly localized distribution of low and oscillatory shear stress along the walls strongly correlates with the focal locations of atheroma in the human left coronary artery.

MeSH terms

  • Blood Flow Velocity
  • Coronary Vessels / physiology*
  • Hemodynamics / physiology
  • Humans
  • Models, Cardiovascular*
  • Pulsatile Flow / physiology*
  • Stress, Mechanical