Influence of Outlet Boundary Conditions on Cerebrovascular Aneurysm Hemodynamics
Computational fluid dynamic (CFD) studies of blood flow in cerebrovascular aneurysms have potential to improve patient treatment planning by enabling clinicians and engineers to model patient-specific geometries and compute predictors and risks prior to neurovascular intervention. However, the use of patient-specific computational models in clinical settings is unfeasible due to their complexity, computationally intensive and time-consuming nature. An important factor contributing to this challenge is the choice of outlet boundary conditions, which often involves a trade-off between physiological accuracy, patient-specificity, simplicity and speed. In this study, we analyze how resistance and impedance outlet boundary conditions affect blood flow velocities, wall shear stresses and pressure distributions in a patient-specific model of a cerebrovascular aneurysm. We also use geometrical manipulation techniques to obtain a model of the patient’s vasculature prior to aneurysm development, and study how forces and stresses may have been involved in the initiation of aneurysm growth. Our CFD results show that the nature of the prescribed outlet boundary conditions is not as important as the relative distributions of blood flow through each outlet branch. As long as the appropriate parameters are chosen to keep these flow distributions consistent with physiology, resistance boundary conditions, which are simpler, easier to use and more practical than their impedance counterparts, are sufficient to study aneurysm pathophysiology, since they predict very similar wall shear stresses, time-averaged wall shear stresses, time-averaged pressures, and blood flow patterns and velocities. The only situations where the use of impedance boundary conditions should be prioritized is if pressure waveforms are being analyzed, or if local pressure distributions are being evaluated at specific time points, especially at peak systole, where the use of resistance boundary conditions leads to unnaturally large pressure pulses. In addition, we show that in this specific patient, the region of the blood vessel where the neck of the aneurysm developed was subject to abnormally high wall shear stresses, and that regions surrounding blebs on the aneurysmal surface were subject to low, oscillatory wall shear stresses. Computational models using resistance outlet boundary conditions may be suitable to study patient-specific aneurysm progression in a clinical setting, although several other challenges must be addressed before these tools can be applied clinically.
Computational Fluid Dynamics
Outlet Boundary Condition
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