Arterial hemodynamics is markedly characterized by the presence of helical flow patterns. Previous observations suggest that arterial helical blood flow is of physiological significance, and that its quantitative analysis holds promise for clinical applications. In particular, it has been reported that distinguishable helical flow patterns are potentially atheroprotective in the carotid bifurcation as they suppress flow disturbances. In this context, there is a knowledge gap about the physiological significance of helical flow in coronary arteries, a prominent site of atherosclerotic plaque formation. This study aimed at the quantitative assessment of helical blood flow in coronary arteries, and to investigate its possible associations with vascular geometry and with atherogenic wall shear stress (WSS) phenotypes in a representative sample of 30 swine coronary arteries. This study demonstrates that in coronary arteries: (1) the hemodynamics is characterized by counter-rotating bi-helical flow structures; (2) unfavorable conditions of WSS are strongly and inversely associated with helicity intensity (r = − 0.91; p < 0.001), suggesting an atheroprotective role for helical flow in the coronary tree; (3) vascular torsion dictates helical flow features (r = 0.64; p < 0.001). The findings of this work support future studies on the role of helical flow in atherogenesis in coronary arteries.

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Annals of Biomedical Engineering
Department of Cardiology

De Nisco, G. (Giuseppe), Kok, A., Chiastra, C., Gallo, D. (Diego), Hoogendoorn, A., Migliavacca, F., … Morbiducci, U. (2018). The Atheroprotective Nature of Helical Flow in Coronary Arteries. Annals of Biomedical Engineering. doi:10.1007/s10439-018-02169-x