Annals of Biomedical Engineering

, Volume 44, Issue 11, pp 3202–3214 | Cite as

Accuracy of 4D Flow Measurement of Cerebrospinal Fluid Dynamics in the Cervical Spine: An In Vitro Verification Against Numerical Simulation

  • Soroush Heidari Pahlavian
  • Alexander C. Bunck
  • Suraj Thyagaraj
  • Daniel Giese
  • Francis Loth
  • Dennis M. Hedderich
  • Jan Robert Kröger
  • Bryn A. MartinEmail author


Abnormal alterations in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flow are thought to play an important role in pathophysiology of various craniospinal disorders such as hydrocephalus and Chiari malformation. Three directional phase contrast MRI (4D Flow) has been proposed as one method for quantification of the CSF dynamics in healthy and disease states, but prior to further implementation of this technique, its accuracy in measuring CSF velocity magnitude and distribution must be evaluated. In this study, an MR-compatible experimental platform was developed based on an anatomically detailed 3D printed model of the cervical subarachnoid space and subject specific flow boundary conditions. Accuracy of 4D Flow measurements was assessed by comparison of CSF velocities obtained within the in vitro model with the numerically predicted velocities calculated from a spatially averaged computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model based on the same geometry and flow boundary conditions. Good agreement was observed between CFD and 4D Flow in terms of spatial distribution and peak magnitude of through-plane velocities with an average difference of 7.5 and 10.6% for peak systolic and diastolic velocities, respectively. Regression analysis showed lower accuracy of 4D Flow measurement at the timeframes corresponding to low CSF flow rate and poor correlation between CFD and 4D Flow in-plane velocities.


Magnetic resonance imaging 4D Flow measurement Cerebrospinal fluid Computational fluid dynamics Phantom experiment 



Cerebrospinal fluid


Central nervous system


Subarachnoid space


Phase-contrast magnetic resonance imaging


Computational fluid dynamics


Foramen magnum


Repetition time


Echo time


Encoding velocity


Velocity to noise ratio



Authors would like to appreciate Conquer Chiari and American Syringomyelia Alliance Project for the support of this work. Authors would also like to acknowledge Dr. Jae-Won Choi and Dr. Morteza Vatani for the helpful discussions and assistance in the rapid-prototyping of the phantom model.

Conflict of interest

Authors have no conflict of interests.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (TIFF 527 kb)
10439_2016_1602_MOESM2_ESM.docx (13 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 12 kb)
10439_2016_1602_MOESM3_ESM.docx (21 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (DOCX 20 kb)


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Copyright information

© Biomedical Engineering Society 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Soroush Heidari Pahlavian
    • 1
    • 2
  • Alexander C. Bunck
    • 3
    • 4
  • Suraj Thyagaraj
    • 1
    • 2
  • Daniel Giese
    • 3
  • Francis Loth
    • 1
    • 2
  • Dennis M. Hedderich
    • 3
  • Jan Robert Kröger
    • 4
  • Bryn A. Martin
    • 5
    Email author
  1. 1.Conquer Chiari Research CenterThe University of AkronAkronUSA
  2. 2.Department of Mechanical EngineeringThe University of AkronAkronUSA
  3. 3.Department of RadiologyUniversity Hospital of CologneCologneGermany
  4. 4.Department of RadiologyUniversity Hospital of MuensterMuensterGermany
  5. 5.Department of Biological EngineeringThe University of IdahoMoscowUSA

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