Objective: Bifurcations of coronary arteries are predilection sites for atherosclerosis and expansive remodeling, the latter being associated with plaque vulnerability. Both are related to blood flow-induced shear stress (SS). We present a new approach to generate 3-D reconstructions of coronary artery bifurcations in vivo and investigate the relationship between SS, wall thickness (WT) and remodeling. Methods: The patient specific 3-D reconstruction of the main branch of the bifurcation was obtained by combining intravascular ultrasound and biplane angiography, and the 3-D lumen of the side branch was based on biplane angiography only. The two data sets were fused and computational methods were applied to determine the SS distribution, using patient derived flow and viscosity data. The intravascular ultrasound data allowed us to measure local WT and remodeling in the main branch. Results: The lumen reconstruction procedure was successful and it was shown that the impact of the side branch on SS distribution in the main branch diminished within 3 mm. Distal to the bifurcation, two continuous regions in the main branch were identified. In the proximal region, we observed lumen preservation, and expansive remodeling. Although a plaque was observed in the low SS region at the non-divider wall, no relationship between SS and WT was found. In the distal region, we observed lumen narrowing and a significant positive relationship between SS and WT. Conclusions: A new imaging technique was applied to generate a 3-D reconstruction of a human coronary artery bifurcation in vivo. The observed relationship between SS, WT and remodeling in this specific patient illustrates the spatial heterogeneity of the atherosclerosis in the vicinity of arterial bifurcations.

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doi.org/10.1016/j.jbiomech.2006.12.007, hdl.handle.net/1765/35308
Journal of Biomechanics
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Gijsen, F., Wentzel, J., Thury, A., Lamers, B., Schuurbiers, J., Serruys, P., & van der Steen, T. (2007). A new imaging technique to study 3-D plaque and shear stress distribution in human coronary artery bifurcations in vivo. Journal of Biomechanics, 40(11), 2349–2357. doi:10.1016/j.jbiomech.2006.12.007