Probabilistic Modeling of Decompression Sickness, Comparative Hydrodynamics of Cetacean Flippers, Optimization of CT/MRI Protocols and Evaluation of Modified Angiocatheters: Engineering Methods Applied to a Diverse Assemblage of Projects

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The intent of the work discussed in this dissertation is to apply the engineering methods of theory/modeling, numerics/computation, and experimentation to a diverse assemblage of projects. Several projects are discussed: probabilistic modeling of decompression sickness, comparative hydrodynamics of cetacean flippers, optimization of CT/MRI protocols, evaluation of modified catheters, rudder cavitation, and modeling of mass transfer in amphibian cone outer segments.

The first project discussed is the probabilistic modeling of decompression sickness (DCS). This project involved developing a system for evaluating the success of decompression models in predicting DCS probability from empirical data. Model parameters were estimated using maximum likelihood techniques, and exact integrals of risk functions and tissue kinetics transition times were derived. Agreement with previously published results was excellent including maximum likelihood values within one log-likelihood unit of previous results and improvements by re-optimization, mean predicted DCS incidents within 1.4% of observed DCS, and time of DCS occurrence prediction. Alternative optimization and homogeneous parallel processing techniques yielded faster model optimization times. The next portion of this project involved investigating the nature and utility of marginal decompression sickness (DCS) events in fitting probabilistic decompression models to experimental dive trial data. Three null models were developed and compared to a known decompression model that was optimized on dive trial data containing only marginal DCS and no-DCS events. It was found that although marginal DCS events are related to exposure to decompression, empirical dive data containing marginal and full DCS outcomes are not combinable under a single DCS model; therefore, marginal DCS should be counted as no-DCS events when optimizing probabilistic DCS models with binomial likelihood functions. The final portion of this project involved the exploration of a multinomial DCS model. Two separate models based on the exponential-exponential/linear-exponential framework were developed: a trinomial model, which is able to predict the probabilities of mild, serious and no-DCS simultaneously, and a tetranomial model, which is able to predict the probabilities of mild, serious, marginal and no-DCS simultaneously. The trinomial DCS model was found to be qualitatively better than the tetranomial model, for reasons found earlier concerning the utility of marginal DCS events in DCS modeling.

The next project discussed is comparative hydrodynamics of cetacean flippers. Cetacean flippers may be viewed as being analogous to modern engineered hydrofoils, which have hydrodynamic properties such as lift coefficient, drag coefficient and associated efficiency. The hydrodynamics of cetacean flippers have not previously been rigorously examined and thus their performance properties are unknown. By conducting water tunnel testing using scale models of cetacean flippers derived via computed tomography (CT) scans, as well as computational fluid dynamic (CFD) simulations, a baseline work is presented to describe the hydrodynamic properties of several cetacean flippers. It was found that flippers of similar planform shape had similar hydrodynamic performance properties. Furthermore, one group of flippers of planform shape similar to modern swept wings was found to have lift coefficients that increased with angle of attack nonlinearly, which was caused by the onset of vortex-dominated lift. Drag coefficient versus angle of attack curves were found to be less dependent on planform shape. Larger cetacean flippers were found to have degraded performance at a Re of 250,000 compared to flippers of smaller odontocetes, while performance of larger and smaller cetacean flippers was similar at a swim speed of 2 m/s. Idealization of the planforms of cetacean flippers was found to capture the relevant hydrodynamic effects of the real flippers, although unintended consequences such as the lift curve slope changing from linear to nonlinear were sometimes observed. A numerical study of an idealized model of the humpback whale flipper showed that the leading-edge tubercles delay stall compared to a baseline (no tubercle) flipper because larger portions of the flow remaining attached at higher angles of attack.

The third project discussed is optimization of CT/MRI protocols. In order to optimize contrast material administration protocols for Computed Tomography (CT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), a custom-built physiologic flow phantom was constructed to model flow in the human body. This flow phantom was used to evaluate the effect of varying volumes, rates, and types of contrast material, use of a saline chase, and cardiac output on aortic enhancement characteristics. For CT, reducing the volume of contrast material decreased duration peak enhancement and reduced the maximum value of peak enhancement. Increasing the rate of contrast media administration increased peak enhancement and decreased duration of peak enhancement. Use of a saline chase resulted in an increase in peak enhancement. Peak aortic enhancement increased when reduced cardiac output was simulated. For MRI, when the same volume of contrast material was injected at the same rate, the type of contrast material used has a significant effect on the greatest peak signal intensity and duration peak signal intensity. A higher injection rate of saline chaser is more advantageous than a larger volume of saline chaser to increase the peak aortic signal intensity using low contrast material doses. Furthermore, for higher volumes of contrast material, the effect of increasing the volume of saline chaser makes almost no difference while increasing the rate of injection makes a significant difference. When a saline chaser with a high injection rate is used, the dose of the contrast material may be reduced by 25-50% and more than 86% of the non-reduced dose peak aortic enhancement will be attained.

The next project discussed is evaluation of modified angiocatheters. In this study, a standard peripheral end hole angiocatheter was compared to those modified with side holes or side slits by using experimental techniques to qualitatively compare the contrast material exit jets, and by using numeric techniques to provide flow visualization and quantitative comparisons. A Schlieren imaging system was used to visualize the angiocatheter exit jet fluid dynamics at two different flow rates, and a commercial computational fluid dynamics (CFD) package was used to calculate numeric results for various catheter orientations and vessel diameters. Experimental images showed that modifying standard peripheral intravenous angiocatheters with side holes or side slits qualitatively changed the overall flow field and caused the exiting jet to become less well-defined. Numeric calculations showed that the addition of side holes or slits resulted in a 9-30% reduction of the velocity of contrast material exiting the end hole of the angiocatheter. With the catheter tip directed obliquely to the wall, the maximum wall shear stress was always highest for the unmodified catheter and always lowest for the 4 side slit catheter. Modified angiocatheters may have the potential to reduce extravasation events in patients by reducing vessel wall shear stress.

The next project discussed involves studying the effect of leading-edge tubercles on cavitation characteristics for marine rudders. Three different rudders were constructed and tested in a water tunnel: baseline, 3-tubercle leading edge, and 5-tubercle leading edge. In the linear (non-stall) regime, tubercled rudders performed equally to the smooth rudder. Hydrodynamic stall occurred at smaller angles of attack for the tubercled rudders than for the smooth rudder. When stall did occur, it was more gradual for the tubercled rudders, whereas the smooth rudder demonstrated a more dramatic loss of lift. At lower Re, the tubercled rudders also maintained a higher value of lift post-stall than the smooth rudder. Cavitation onset for the tubercled rudders occurred at lower angles of attack and higher values of cavitation number than for the smooth rudder, but cavities on the tubercled rudders were localized in the slots as opposed to the smooth rudder where the cavity spread across the entire leading edge.

In the final project discussed, modeling of mass transfer in amphibian cone outer segments, a detailed derivation of a simplified (continuum, one-dimensional) mathematical model for the radio-labeled opsin density profile in the amphibian cone outer segment is presented. This model relies on only one free parameter, which was the mass transfer coefficient between the plasmalemma and disc region. The descriptive equations were nondimensionalized, and scale analysis showed that advective effects could be neglected as a first approximation for early times so that a simplified system could be obtained. Through numeric computation the solution behavior was found to have three distinct stages. The first stage was marked by diffusion in the plasmalemma and no mass transfer in the disc region. The second stage first involved the plasmalemma reaching a metastable state whereas the disc region density increased, then involved both the plasmalemma and disc regions increasing in density with their distributions being qualitatively the same. The final stage involved a slow relaxation to the steady-state solution.





Weber, Paul William (2010). Probabilistic Modeling of Decompression Sickness, Comparative Hydrodynamics of Cetacean Flippers, Optimization of CT/MRI Protocols and Evaluation of Modified Angiocatheters: Engineering Methods Applied to a Diverse Assemblage of Projects. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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