Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. Tamie L. Poepping


Ischemic stroke is often a consequence of complications due to clot formation (i.e. thrombosis) at the site of an atherosclerotic plaque developed in the internal carotid artery. Hemodynamic factors, such as shear-stress forces and flow disturbances, can facilitate the key mechanisms of thrombosis. Atherosclerotic plaques can differ in the severity of stenosis (narrowing), in eccentricity (symmetry), as well as inclusion of ulceration (wall roughness). Therefore, in terms of clinical significance, it is important to investigate how the local hemodynamics of the carotid artery is mediated by the geometry of plaque. Knowledge of thrombosis-associated hemodynamics may provide a basis to introduce advanced clinical diagnostic indices that reflect the increased probability of thrombosis and thus assist with better estimation of stroke risk, which is otherwise primarily assessed based on the degree of narrowing of the lumen.

A stereoscopic particle image velocimetry (stereo-PIV) system was configured to obtain instantaneous full-field velocity measurements in life-sized carotid artery models. Extraction of the central-plane and volumetric features of the flow revealed the complexity of the stenotic carotid flow, which increased with increasing stenosis severity and changed with the symmetry of the plaque. Evaluation of the energy content of two models of the stenosed carotid bifurcation provided insight on the expected level of flow instabilities with potential clinical implications. Studies in a comprehensive family of eight models ranging from disease-free to severely stenosed (30%, 50%, 70% diameter reduction) and with two types of plaque symmetry (concentric or eccentric), as well as a single ulcerated stenosed model, clearly demonstrated the significance of plaque geometry in marked alteration of the levels and patterns of downstream flow disturbances and shear stress. Plaque eccentricity and ulceration resulted in enhanced flow disturbances. In addition, shear-stress patterns in those models with eccentric stenosis were suggestive of increased thrombosis potential at the post-stenotic recirculation zone compared to their concentric counterpart plaques.

Suppl_Movie_Chapter 4.mp4 (12743 kB)
Supplementary Movie for Chapter 4