Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 17–32 | Cite as

Hemodynamics and wall mechanics in human carotid bifurcation and its consequences for atherogenesis: investigation of inter-individual variation

  • H. F. Younis
  • M. R. Kaazempur-Mofrad
  • R. C. Chan
  • A. G. Isasi
  • D. P. Hinton
  • A. H. Chau
  • L. A. Kim
  • R. D. KammEmail author
Original Paper


Finite element simulations of fluid–solid interactions were used to investigate inter-individual variations in flow dynamics and wall mechanics at the carotid artery bifurcation, and its effects on atherogenesis, in three healthy humans (normal volunteers: NV1, NV2, NV4). Subject-specific calculations were based on MR images of structural anatomy and ultrasound measurements of flow at domain boundaries. For all subjects, the largest contiguous region of low wall shear stress (WSS) occurred at the carotid bulb, WSS was high (6–10 Pa) at the apex, and a small localized region of WSS>10 Pa occurred close to the inner wall of the external carotid artery (ECA). NV2 and NV4 had a “spot” of low WSS distal to the bifurcation at the inner wall of the ECA. Low WSS patches in the common carotid artery (CCA) were contiguous with the carotid bulb low WSS region in NV1 and NV2, but not in NV4. In all three subjects, areas of high oscillatory shear index (OSI) were confined to regions of low WSS. Only NV4 exhibited high levels of OSI on the external adjoining wall of the ECA and CCA. For all subjects, the maximum wall shear stress temporal gradient (WSSTG) was highest at the flow divider (reaching 1,000 Pa/s), exceeding 300 Pa/s at the walls connecting the ECA and CCA, but remaining below 250 Pa/s outside of the ECA. In all subjects, (maximum principle) cyclic strain (CS) was greatest at the apex (NV1: 14%; NV2: 11%; NV4: 6%), and a second high CS region occurred at the ECA–CCA adjoining wall (NV1: 11%, NV2: 9%, NV4: 5%). Wall deformability was included in one simulation (NV2) to verify that it had little influence on the parameters studied. Location and magnitude of low WSS were similar, except for the apex (differences of up to 25%). Wall distensibility also influenced OSI, doubling it in most of the CCA, separating the single high OSI region of the carotid bulb into two smaller regions, and shrinking the ECA internal and external walls’ high OSI regions. These observations provide further evidence that significant intra-subject variability exists in those factors thought to impact atherosclerosis.


Wall Shear Stress Common Carotid Artery Cyclic Strain Carotid Bifurcation Oscillatory Shear Index 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Support from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (HL 61794) is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. F. Younis
    • 1
  • M. R. Kaazempur-Mofrad
    • 1
    • 3
  • R. C. Chan
    • 2
  • A. G. Isasi
    • 1
  • D. P. Hinton
    • 2
  • A. H. Chau
    • 1
  • L. A. Kim
    • 1
  • R. D. Kamm
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Mechanical Engineering and Biological Engineering DivisionMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Department of RadiologyMassachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  3. 3.Department of SurgeryMassachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA

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