Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Medical Biophysics


Dr. David Holdsworth


The presence of irregular plaque surface morphology or ulceration of the atherosclerotic lesion has been identified as an independent risk factor for ischemic stroke. Doppler ultrasound (DUS) is the most commonly performed non-invasive technique used to assess patients suspected of having carotid artery disease, but currently does not incorporate the diagnosis of plaque ulceration. Advanced Doppler analyses incorporating quantitative estimates of flow disturbances may result in diagnostic indices that identify plaque ulcerative conditions. A technique for the fabrication of DUS-compatible flow phantoms was developed, using a direct-machining method that is amenable to comprehensive DUS investigations. In vitro flow studies in an ensemble of matched model vessel geometries determined that ulceration as small as 2 mm can generate significant disturbances in the downstream flow field in a moderately stenosed carotid artery, which are detectable using the DUS velocity-derived parameter turbulence intensity (TI) measured with a clinical system. Further experimental results showed that distal TI was significantly elevated (P < 0.001) due to proximal plaque ulceration in the mild and moderately stenosed carotid bifurcation (30%, 50%, 60% diameter reduction), and also increased with stenosis severity. Pulsatile computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models, with simulated particle tracking, demonstrated enhanced flow disruption of the stenotic jet and slight elevations in path-dependent shear exposure parameters in a stenosed carotid bifurcation model with ulceration. In addition, CFD models were used to evaluate the DUS index TI using finite volume sampling.