Numerical investigation of fluid–particle interactions for embolic stroke
Roughly one-third of all strokes are caused by an embolus traveling to a cerebral artery and blocking blood flow in the brain. The objective of this study is to gain a detailed understanding of the dynamics of embolic particles within arteries. Patient computed tomography image is used to construct a three-dimensional model of the carotid bifurcation. An idealized carotid bifurcation model of same vessel diameters was also constructed for comparison. Blood flow velocities and embolic particle trajectories are resolved using a coupled Euler–Lagrange approach. Blood is modeled as a Newtonian fluid, discretized using the finite volume method, with physiologically appropriate inflow and outflow boundary conditions. The embolus trajectory is modeled using Lagrangian particle equations accounting for embolus interaction with blood as well as vessel wall. Both one- and two-way fluid–particle coupling are considered, the latter being implemented using momentum sources augmented to the discretized flow equations. It was observed that for small-to-moderate particle sizes (relative to vessel diameters), the estimated particle distribution ratio—with and without the inclusion of two-way fluid–particle momentum exchange—were found to be similar. The maximum observed differences in distribution ratio with and without the coupling were found to be higher for the idealized bifurcation model. Additionally, the distribution was found to be reasonably matching the volumetric flow distribution for the idealized model, while a notable deviation from volumetric flow was observed in the anatomical model. It was also observed from an analysis of particle path lines that particle interaction with helical flow, characteristic of anatomical vasculature models, could play a prominent role in transport of embolic particle. The results indicate therefore that flow helicity could be an important hemodynamic indicator for analysis of embolus particle transport. Additionally, in the presence of helical flow, and vessel curvature, inclusion of two-way momentum exchange was found to have a secondary effect for transporting small to moderate embolus particles—and one-way coupling could be used as a reasonable approximation, thereby causing substantial savings in computational resources.