Department of Medicine Publications

Document Type


Publication Date








First Page


Last Page


URL with Digital Object Identifier



BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: That certain vessels might be at so-called geometric risk of atherosclerosis rests on assumptions of wide interindividual variations in disturbed flow and of a direct relationship between disturbed flow and lumen geometry. In testing these often-implicit assumptions, the present study aimed to determine whether investigations of local risk factors in atherosclerosis can indeed rely on surrogate geometric markers of disturbed flow. METHODS: Computational fluid dynamics simulations were performed on carotid bifurcation geometries derived from MRI of 25 young adults. Disturbed flow was quantified as the surface area exposed to low and oscillatory shear beyond objectively-defined thresholds. Interindividual variations in disturbed flow were contextualized with respect to effects of uncertainties in imaging and geometric reconstruction. Relationships between disturbed flow and various geometric factors were tested via multiple regression. RESULTS: Relatively wide variations in disturbed flow were observed among the 50 vessels. Multiple regression revealed a significant (P<0.002) relationship between disturbed flow and both proximal area ratio (β≈0.5) and bifurcation tortuosity (β≈-0.4), but not bifurcation angle, planarity, or distal area ratio. These findings were shown to be insensitive to assumptions about the flow conditions and to the choice of disturbed flow indicator and threshold. CONCLUSIONS: Certain geometric features of the young adult carotid bifurcation are robust surrogate markers of its exposure to disturbed flow. It may therefore be reasonable to consider large-scale retrospective or prospective imaging studies of local risk factors for atherosclerosis without the need for time-consuming and expensive flow imaging or CFD studies. © 2008 American Heart Association, Inc.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.