Evolution of hemodynamic forces in the pulmonary tree with progressively worsening pulmonary arterial hypertension in pediatric patients

  • Weiguang YangEmail author
  • Melody Dong
  • Marlene Rabinovitch
  • Frandics P. Chan
  • Alison L. Marsden
  • Jeffrey A. Feinstein
Original Paper


Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is characterized by pulmonary vascular remodeling resulting in right ventricular (RV) dysfunction and ultimately RV failure. Mechanical stimuli acting on the vessel walls of the full pulmonary tree have not previously been comprehensively characterized. The goal of this study is to characterize wall shear stress (WSS) and strain in pediatric PAH patients at different stages of disease severity using computational patient-specific modeling. Computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging and right heart catheterization data were collected and assimilated into pulmonary artery (PA) models for patients with and without PAH. Patients were grouped in three disease severity groups (control, moderate and severe) based on clinical evaluations. A finite element solver was employed to quantify hemodynamics and wall strains. To estimate WSS in the distal small PAs with diameters ranging from 50 to 500 \(\upmu \text {m}\), a morphometric tree model was created, with inputs coming from outlets of the 3D model. WSS in the proximal PAs decreased with disease severity (control 20.5 vs. moderate 15.8 vs. severe 6.3 \(\text {dyn}/\text {cm}^2\), \(p<0.05\)). Oscillatory shear index increased in the main pulmonary artery (MPA) with disease severity (0.13 vs. 0.13 vs. 0.2, \(p>0.05\)). Wall strains measured by the first invariant of Green strain tensor decreased with disease severity (0.16 vs. 0.12 vs. 0.11, \(p>0.05\)). Mean WSS for the distal PAs between 100 and 500 \(\upmu \text {m}\) significantly increased with disease severity (20 vs. 52 vs. 116 \(\text {dyn}/\text {cm}^2\), \(p<0.05\)). In conclusion, 3D flow simulations showed that WSS is significantly decreased in the MPA with disease while the mathematical morphometric model suggested increased WSS in the distal small vessels. Computational models can reveal mechanical stimuli acting on vessel walls that may inform patient risk stratification and flow shear experiments.


Pulmonary arterial hypertension Wall shear stress Oscillatory shear index Wall strain Distal pulmonary artery Morphometry tree Blood flow simulation Patient-specific modeling 



The authors would like to thank Dr. Chiu-Yu Chen, Michelle Ogawa, Sam Craft, Aldine Whitfield and Matthew Irvin for their assistance in data collection. This work was supported in part by the Vera Moulton Wall Center at Stanford University. Melody Dong was supported by an NSF graduate research fellowship. High-performance computing resources were provided by Stanford Research Computing and the NSF XSEDE program Towns et al. (2014).


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PediatricsStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  2. 2.Department of BioengineeringStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  3. 3.Department of RadiologyStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  4. 4.Departments of Pediatrics and BioengineeringStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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