478038 Computational Fluid Dynamics Analysis of the Carotid Artery

Monday, November 14, 2016
Grand Ballroom B (Hilton San Francisco Union Square)
Dominick Salerno and David G. Foster, Chemical Engineering, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY

In the human body, the carotid artery provides the brain’s main blood supply carrying oxygenated blood from the heart to the head. As the carotid ascends the neck, it splits into two main branches referred to as the carotid bifurcation. This bifurcation contains a bulge, the carotid sinus, which causes a region of flow reversal to develop during the cardiac cycle. While this phenomena has been medically observed, it is not yet fully understood from a fluid dynamics perspective. The goal of this project was to characterize the velocity profiles and pressure gradients in the carotid artery to better understand the biological significance of the carotid sinus. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD - ANSYS Fluent) was used as the link between medicine and engineering, allowing us to quickly and easily visualize blood flow in this region under a variety of important physiological conditions. By creating a biologically accurate model of the carotid and applying relevant boundary conditions, blood flow and pressure contours were observed and applied to medically relevant issues. Overall, this research project served to help better characterize blood flow in the carotid artery. The simulations run in this experiment illustrated the same velocity profiles seen in previous studies, but in much more detail. The observed pressure contours also provided a cause for the flow reversal, showing an adverse pressure gradient within the carotid sinus. Baro- and chemo- receptors in the carotid sinus were also simulated to try and find biological significance for flow reversal. Further refinement is still needed, but these simulations show promise for future work. Applications of this research to atherosclerosis were then looked at and, as this is a medically relevant phenomena that is not fully characterized, this project could serve as a starting point for a much larger study. While this project helped to better characterize flow patterns and pressure gradients within the carotid, all simulations use average values and need verification with patient data. In the future, actual patient data could be used to model a blood flow in the carotid and serve to predict health problems. Future work will include working to obtain actual scans from patients and using their specific measurements to model actual arteries. The carotid bifurcation is very vulnerable to plaque build up, and as the carotid leads to the brain, these plaques breaking off are a major cause of blood clots and stroke. Overall, CFD allowed for a medical phenomenon to be visualized and better characterized with great promise for future clinical significance.

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