Prediction of fibre architecture and adaptation in diseased carotid bifurcations
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Many studies have used patient-specific finite element models to estimate the stress environment in atherosclerotic plaques, attempting to correlate the magnitude of stress to plaque vulnerability. In complex geometries, few studies have incorporated the anisotropic material response of arterial tissue. This paper presents a fibre remodelling algorithm to predict the fibre architecture, and thus anisotropic material response in four patient-specific models of the carotid bifurcation. The change in fibre architecture during disease progression and its affect on the stress environment in the plaque were predicted. The mean fibre directions were assumed to lie at an angle between the two positive principal strain directions. The angle and the degree of dispersion were assumed to depend on the ratio of principal strain values. Results were compared with experimental observations and other numerical studies. In non-branching regions of each model, the typical double helix arterial fibre pattern was predicted while at the bifurcation and in regions of plaque burden, more complex fibre architectures were found. The predicted change in fibre architecture in the arterial tissue during plaque progression was found to alter the stress environment in the plaque. This suggests that the specimen-specific anisotropic response of the tissue should be taken into account to accurately predict stresses in the plaque. Since determination of the fibre architecture in vivo is a difficult task, the system presented here provides a useful method of estimating the fibre architecture in complex arterial geometries.
KeywordsCarotid bifurcation Arterial biomechanics Finite element analysis Patient-specific models Fibre architecture Atherosclerosis
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