, Volume 51, Issue 1-2, pp 207-218

Effect of head posture on the healthy human carotid bifurcation hemodynamics

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Abstract

Head and neck postures may cause morphology changes to the geometry of the carotid bifurcation (CB) that alter the low and oscillating wall shear stress (WSS) regions previously reported as important in the development of atherosclerosis. Here the right and left CB were imaged by MRI in two healthy subjects in the neutral head posture with the subject in the supine position and in two other head postures with the subject in the prone position: (1) rightward rotation up to 80°, and (2) leftward rotation up to 80°. Image-based computational models were constructed to investigate the effect of posture on arterial geometry and local hemodynamics. The area exposure to unfavorable hemodynamics, based on thresholds set for oscillatory shear index (OSI), WSS and relative residence time, was used to quantify the hemodynamic impact on the wall. Torsion of the head was found to: (1) cause notable changes in the bifurcation and internal carotid artery angles and, in most cases, on cross-sectional area ratios for common, internal and external carotid artery, (2) change the spatial distribution of wall regions exposed to unfavorable hemodynamics, and (3) cause a marked change in the hemodynamic burden on the wall when the OSI was considered. These findings suggest that head posture may be associated with the genesis and development of atherosclerotic disease as well as complications in stenotic and stented vessels.