Flow in human arteries

Stent design through numerical simulation

Numerical simulation is a crucial tool for understanding the fundamental mechanisms of disease development and for designing new medical devices. Our software provides accurate predictions of medical flow data in human blood vessels. Medical devices like stents are easily integrated in the vessel. The two pictures below for example are obtained from a computer simulation in a human blood vessel with an aneurysm, in which a stent has been introduced. The left image represents the flow pattern in the artery in terms of streamlines. On the righ-hand-side picture, shear stresses on the vessel wall are depicted, which can be related to the risk of rupture of the vessel.


A striking superiority of our software over many other CFD tools stems from its ability to resolve the stent with an extremely fine mesh. Even fine-structured stents with micrometer-scale details are fully resolved (and not just approximated with a continuum porous-media model) to produce accurate predictions on the flow pattern. In the following representation of simulation results for example, the struts of the stent is more than 1'000 times smaller than the diameter of the artery, and yet the stent geometry is fully resolved:

The particles are inserted in the artery for visualization purposes only: they have no biological meaning. This is a powerful technique by which the properties of the flow are represented in an intuitive way, revealing more detailed information than traditional visualization patterns like streamlines or iso-surfaces. It is worth playing the animation above in full-screen mode to fully appreciate the details of the flow.
A time-dependent flow in the same artery section with a stent is show in the movie below. Here, an average flow is imposed at the entry of the artery, with a signal that is taken from measurements in a human carotid.
The use of a stent, in the example shown here, is to change the flow pattern in order to stabilize the aneurysm. As the comparison in the animation below (in a steady regime) shows, the stent deviates the flow from the aneurysm into the artery branch ahead, while a minor flow still flows into the aneurysm.

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