Effects of an Artery/Vascular Graft Compliance Mismatch on Protein Transport: A Numerical Study

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Small-diameter vascular graft failure by intimal hyperplasia and thrombosis may result from flow disturbances and disruption of chemical transport in the fluid at the distal anastomosis, because of compliance mismatch between the graft and host artery. In previous studies, lower-than-normal wall shear stress (WSS), particle trapping, and high particle residence times were observed at the distal anastomosis due to a pulsatile tubular expansion effect caused by nonuniform radial deformations. This study was undertaken to examine effects of compliance and radius mismatch on the distribution of a model protein released at the graft–fluid interface. Finite element simulations of end-to-end vascular grafting were performed under pulsatile flow, using fluid–structure coupling to give physiologic wall displacements. Results showed that protein is convected smoothly downstream in a uniform compliant tube. A compliance mismatch disturbed the transport, causing positive and negative gradients in the concentration profile at the distal anastomosis. This was seen when the graft and artery radii were matched at zero pressure and at mean arterial pressure; low WSSs were only observed in the former case. Thus the distal intimal hypertrophy seen in noncompliant grafts may be caused partly by decreased WSS, and partly by concentration gradients of dissolved chemicals affecting chemotaxis of cells.

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