Introduction: Intracranial atherosclerotic steno-occlusive disease (ICAS) is a major cause of stroke worldwide and portends a high risk of recurrence. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) is a novel technique developed to solve and analyze the dynamic effects of fluid flow. We aimed to analyse hemodynamics across ICAS using CFD on processed CTA images and explore the correlation between the degree of arterial stenosis and hemodynamic flow status.
Methods: We recruited patients with symptomatic ICAS from Acute Stroke Unit, Prince of Wales Hospital. All patients received CTA and DSA as vascular workup. Using CFD analysis of processed CTA images, we first defined the hemodynamic parameters, including pressure difference, pressure ratio, pressure gradient, shear strain rate ratio (SSR), wall shear stress (WSS) ratio and velocity ratio, across the stenosed vessels, and then we correlated the severity of stenosis as defined by DSA, with these parameters.
Results: Among the 53 recruited patients (mean age 62.9 years, 69.8% males), 45 (85%) had lesions in the anterior circulation. The severity of stenosis showed a weak-to-moderate correlation with pressure difference (rs=0.392, p=0.004), pressure ratio (rs=-0.429, p=0.001) and pressure gradient (rs=0.419, p=0.002). There was no significant correlation between the severity of stenosis with SSR ratio, WSS ratio and velocity ratio. Among patients with anterior circulation stroke or TIA, the severity of stenosis showed a weak to moderate correlation with pressure difference (rs=0.381, p=0.01), pressure ratio (rs=-0.426, p=0.004) and pressure gradient (rs=0.407, p=0.005). For patients with posterior circulation stroke or TIA, the severity of stenosis was strongly correlated with pressure difference (rs=0.714, p=0.047) and pressure ratio (rs=-0.714, p=0.047); and very strongly correlated with velocity ratio (rs=0.833, p=0.01).
Conclusions: The severity of ICAS showed only weak-to-moderate correlation with hemodynamic parameters across the culprit lesion. Thus, risk stratification and treatment based solely on stenotic severity may be inadequate. Our findings may guide further research in estimating stroke risks and selection of high-risk patients who may benefit from adjunctive treatments.