Heart attacks are often caused by rupture of caps of atherosclerotic plaques in coronary arteries. Cap rupture occurs when cap stress exceeds cap strength. We investigated the effects of plaque morphology and material properties on cap stress. Histological data from 77 coronary lesions were obtained and segmented. In these patient-specific cross sections, peak cap stresses were computed by using finite element analyses. The finite element analyses were 2D, assumed isotropic material behavior, and ignored residual stresses. To represent the wide spread in material properties, we applied soft and stiff material models for the intima. Measures of geometric plaque features for all lesions were determined and their relations to peak cap stress were examined using regression analyses. Patient-specific geometrical plaque features greatly influence peak cap stresses. Especially, local irregularities in lumen and necrotic core shape as well as a thin intima layer near the shoulder of the plaque induce local stress maxima. For stiff models, cap stress increased with decreasing cap thickness and increasing lumen radius (R = 0.79). For soft models, this relationship changed: increasing lumen radius and increasing lumen curvature were associated with increased cap stress (R = 0.66). The results of this study imply that not only accurate assessment of plaque geometry, but also of intima properties is essential for cap stress analyses in atherosclerotic plaques in human coronary arteries.

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doi.org/10.1080/10255842.2015.1062091, hdl.handle.net/1765/86706
Computer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering
Department of Radiology

Akyildiz, A.C, Speelman, L, Nieuwstadt, H.A, van Brummelen, E.H, Virmani, R, van der Lugt, A, … Gijsen, F.J.H. (2016). The effects of plaque morphology and material properties on peak cap stress in human coronary arteries. Computer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering, 19(7), 771–779. doi:10.1080/10255842.2015.1062091