Project Title

Computational characterization of carotid bifurcation hemodynamics under microgravity

Academic department under which the project should be listed

Mechanical Engineering

Faculty Sponsor Name

Philippe Sucosky

no human subjects

Project Type

Event

Abstract (300 words maximum)

The common carotid artery (CCA) is a major blood vessel connected to the aorta and supplying blood to the head. The CCA separates into two branches, namely the internal carotid artery (ICA) and the external carotid artery (ECA), and the bifurcation is particularly vulnerable to atherosclerosis. This disorder consists of the accumulation of lipids in the arterial wall and the subsequent formation of a plaque, whose rupture may lead to stroke and death. A recent study conducted on astronauts returning from the international space station suggested a link between long-term spaceflight and atherosclerotic plaque development. Supported by previous research that established a correlation between plaque formation and blood flow abnormalities, we hypothesized that microgravity could produce stagnant, retrograde blood flow characteristics in the bifurcation, like those known to promote atherosclerosis. Therefore, the objective of this study was to quantify computationally the effects of microgravity on carotid bifurcation hemodynamics. Realistic 3D carotid geometries were reconstructed from 2D ultrasound images and the flow was characterized under microgravity (0G) and unit gravity (1G) using computational fluid dynamics in terms of carotid wall shear stress (WSS) directionality and magnitude. WSS predictions suggested a higher degree of flow stasis and reversal in regions prone to atherosclerosis under 0G, which translated into abnormalities in WSS magnitude and directionality. The study demonstrates the adverse effects of microgravity on carotid hemodynamics and suggests a new risk posed by long-term spaceflight on human health.

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Computational characterization of carotid bifurcation hemodynamics under microgravity

The common carotid artery (CCA) is a major blood vessel connected to the aorta and supplying blood to the head. The CCA separates into two branches, namely the internal carotid artery (ICA) and the external carotid artery (ECA), and the bifurcation is particularly vulnerable to atherosclerosis. This disorder consists of the accumulation of lipids in the arterial wall and the subsequent formation of a plaque, whose rupture may lead to stroke and death. A recent study conducted on astronauts returning from the international space station suggested a link between long-term spaceflight and atherosclerotic plaque development. Supported by previous research that established a correlation between plaque formation and blood flow abnormalities, we hypothesized that microgravity could produce stagnant, retrograde blood flow characteristics in the bifurcation, like those known to promote atherosclerosis. Therefore, the objective of this study was to quantify computationally the effects of microgravity on carotid bifurcation hemodynamics. Realistic 3D carotid geometries were reconstructed from 2D ultrasound images and the flow was characterized under microgravity (0G) and unit gravity (1G) using computational fluid dynamics in terms of carotid wall shear stress (WSS) directionality and magnitude. WSS predictions suggested a higher degree of flow stasis and reversal in regions prone to atherosclerosis under 0G, which translated into abnormalities in WSS magnitude and directionality. The study demonstrates the adverse effects of microgravity on carotid hemodynamics and suggests a new risk posed by long-term spaceflight on human health.