Computational fluid dynamics characterization of pulsatile flow in central and Sano shunts connected to the pulmonary arteries: importance of graft angulation on shear stress-induced, platelet-mediated thrombosis.

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Abstract

OBJECTIVES

Central (aorta) and Sano (right ventricle)-to-pulmonary artery (PA) shunts, palliative operations for infants with complex heart defects, can develop life-threatening thrombosis. We employed computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to study pulsatile flow in these shunts, with the goal to identify haemodynamic characteristics conducive to thrombus formation.

METHODS

CFD, using the finite volume method with cardiac catheterization data, and computer simulations, based on angiography, were employed to determine flow-velocity field, wall shear stress (WSS) profile and oscillatory shear index (OSI).

RESULTS

At prominent angulation, in central shunts (4 and 3.5 mm), WSS reached 245 and 123 (Pascal-Pa), peak systole and 137 and 46 Pa, end diastole; and, in Sano shunts (5 and 6 mm), WSS attained 203 and 133 Pa, peak systole and 1.6 and 1.5 Pa, end diastole. Counter-rotating flow vortices augmented WSS. These high WSSs can promote platelet aggregation, leading to thrombus formation. The OSIs averaged 0.39, indicative of multidirectional shearing forces. Shunt burden was assessed by averaging WSS, over its luminal area and the cardiac cycle. For the central shunts, these WSSs were 73.0 and 67.2 Pa; whereas, for the Sano shunts, 34.9 and 19.6 Pa. For modified Blalock-Taussig shunts (4 and 3.5 mm), the averaged WSSs were significantly lower at 26.0 and 27.5 Pa, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS

CFD modelling is an important tool to determine blood flow behaviour in shunts. Graft angulation presents a risk for shear stress-induced, platelet- mediated thrombosis, which is more likely to occur in elongated central than in Sano shunts.

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