Background: Noninvasive fractional flow measures with CT angiography (CTA) have revolutionized cardiology, yet the complex anatomy of the cerebral circulation and boundary conditions challenge the study of intracranial atherosclerosis. We developed a framework for systematic computational fluid dynamics (CFD) of middle cerebral artery (MCA) stenosis with CTA in SAMMPRIS.
Methods: A 3D geometric mesh was generated from CTA source images, followed by CFD processing in Ansys (ICEM, CFX) on a Cray supercomputer. Reference boundary conditions were applied with an ICA inlet and outlets at the ACA and distal MCA to yield quantitative maps of intraluminal pressure drops (ΔP or fractional flow), blood flow velocity (V) and turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) with wall shear stress (WSS) mapped along the arteries. CFD parameters were then compared with SAMMPRIS angiography variables.
Results: Of 451 SAMMPRIS (70-99% symptomatic stenosis) subjects, CTA was acquired at enrollment in 41 MCA cases. CFD results were successfully attained in 30, limited by anatomy (e.g. across branch points) in 7/11 and poor CTA resolution in 4/11. Fractional flow (ΔP) across stenosis was mean 0.64 ± SD 0.33, with maximal stenosis velocity of mean 192 ± SD 101 cm/s and maximal WSS 0.36 ± SD 0.25 mm Hg.
SAMMPRIS angiography percent stenosis was unrelated to ΔP -0.163 (p=0.399), velocity 0.126 (p=0.514) or WSS 0.078 (p=0.689). Worse collateral blood flow grades were associated with larger ΔP (p=0.137), higher velocity (p=0.059), higher WSS (p=0.112). Asymmetric WSS with high and low regions on opposing arterial walls was measured in the post-stenotic segment in 25/30 (83%). TKE maps revealed focal increases in the post-stenotic region, yet not above abnormal thresholds based on arterial diameter.
Conclusions: CTA CFD of intracranial atherosclerosis provides detailed noninvasive measures of hemodynamics.