Flow patterns in the human carotid artery bifurcation.
To elucidate the connection between blood flow and the localized genesis and development of atherosclerosis and thrombosis at the human carotid artery bifurcation, detailed studies of the flow patterns and distributions of fluid velocity and wall shear rate in this region were carried out using a transparent segment of the carotid artery, prepared from a human subject postmortem, and cinemicrographic techniques. It was found that a recirculation zone which consisted of a pair of complex spiral secondary flows, symmetrical about the common median plane of the bifurcation, was formed in the carotid sinus over wide ranges of inflow Reynolds numbers, Re0, and flow rate ratios, Q1/Q0 (internal/common). The formation and the size of the recirculation zone were largely dependent on Q1/Q0, as well as on Re0. The size of the recirculation zone increased from approximately 4 mm at Re0 = 300 to a maximum of approximately 9 mm at Re0 greater than 800. The results suggest that, under physiological conditions (Re0 approximately 600, Q1/Q0 approximately 0.7), a standing recirculation zone exists in the carotid sinus, thereby affecting local mass transfer and interactions of blood cells with the vessel wall, which may lead to the incidence of atherosclerosis and thrombosis in this region.
- Copyright © 1984 by American Heart Association