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Carotid arterial plaque stress analysis using fluid-structure interactive simulation based on in vivo magnetic resonance images of four patients

Gao, Hao and Long, Quan and Graves, Martin and Gillard, Jonathan and Li, Zhi-Yong (2009) Carotid arterial plaque stress analysis using fluid-structure interactive simulation based on in vivo magnetic resonance images of four patients. Journal of Biomechanics, 42 (10). pp. 1416-1423. ISSN 0021-9290

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The rupture of atherosclerotic plaques is known to be associated with the stresses that act on or within the arterial wall. The extreme wall tensile stress (WTS) is usually recognized as a primary trigger for the rupture of vulnerable plaque. The present study used the in-vivo high-resolution multi-spectral magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for carotid arterial plaque morphology reconstruction. Image segmentation of different plaque components was based on the multi-spectral MRI and co-registered with different sequences for the patient. Stress analysis was performed on totally four subjects with different plaque burden by fluid–structure interaction (FSI) simulations. Wall shear stress distributions are highly related to the degree of stenosis, while the level of its magnitude is much lower than the WTS in the fibrous cap. WTS is higher in the luminal wall and lower at the outer wall, with the lowest stress at the lipid region. Local stress concentrations are well confined in the thinner fibrous cap region, and usually locating in the plaque shoulder; the introduction of relative stress variation during a cycle in the fibrous cap can be a potential indicator for plaque fatigue process in the thin fibrous cap. According to stress analysis of the four subjects, a risk assessment in terms of mechanical factors could be made, which may be helpful in clinical practice. However, more subjects with patient specific analysis are desirable for plaque-stability study.