Although coronary tortuosity can influence the hemodynamics of coronary arteries, the relationship between tortuosity and flow has not been thoroughly investigated partly due to the absence of a widely accepted definition of tortuosity and the lack of patient-specific studies that analyze complete coronary trees. Using a computational approach we investigated the effects of tortuosity on coronary flow parameters including pressure drop, wall shear stress, and helical flow strength as measured by helicity intensity. Our analysis considered idealized and patient-specific geometries. Overall results indicate that perfusion pressure decreases with increased tortuosity, but the patient-specific results show that more tortuous vessels have higher physiological wall shear stress values. Differences between the idealized and patient-specific results reveal that an accurate representation of coronary tortuosity must account for all relevant geometric aspects, including curvature imposed by the heart shape. The patient-specific results exhibit a strong correlation between tortuosity and helicity intensity, and the corresponding helical flow contributes directly to the observed increase in wall shear stress. Therefore, helicity intensity may prove helpful in developing a universal parameter to describe tortuosity and assess its impact on patient health. Our data suggest that increased tortuosity could have a deleterious impact via a reduction in coronary perfusion pressure, but the attendant increase in wall shear stress could afford protection against atherosclerosis.

Computational fluid dynamics, Coronary artery, Helicity, Tortuosity, Wall shear stress,
Annals of Biomedical Engineering
Department of Biomedical Engineering

Vorobtsova, N, Chiastra, C, Stremler, M.A, Sane, D.C, Migliavacca, F, & Vlachos, P. (2016). Effects of Vessel Tortuosity on Coronary Hemodynamics: An Idealized and Patient-Specific Computational Study. Annals of Biomedical Engineering, 44(7), 2228–2239. doi:10.1007/s10439-015-1492-3