Developing Experimental Methods and Assessing Metrics to Evaluate Cerebral Aneurysm Hemodynamics
Accurately assessing the risk and growth of rupture among intracranial aneurysms (IA) remains a challenging task for clinicians. Hemodynamic factors are known to play a critical role in the development of IAs, but the specific mechanisms are not well understood. Many studies have sought to correlate specific flow metrics to risk of growth and rupture but have reported conflicting findings. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) has predominantly been the methodology used to study IA hemodynamics. Yet, CFD assumptions and limitations coupled with the lack of CFD validation has precluded clinical acceptance of IA hemodynamic assessments and likely contributed to the contradictory results among previous studies. Experimental particle image velocimetry (PIV) studies have been noticeably limited in both scope and number among IA studies, in part due to the complexity associated with such experiments. Moreover, the limited understanding of the robustness of hemodynamic metrics across varying flow and measurement environments and the effect of transitional flow in IAs also remain open issues. In this work, techniques to enhance IA PIV capabilities were developed and the first volumetric pulsatile IA PIV study was performed. A novel blood analog solution—a mixture of water, glycerol and urea— was developed and an autonomous methodology for reducing experimental noise in velocity fields was introduced and demonstrated. Both of these experimental techniques can also be used in PIV studies extending beyond IA applications. Further, the onset and development of transitional flow in physiological, pulsatile waveforms was explored. The robustness of hemodynamic metrics such as wall shear stress, oscillatory shear index, and relative residence time across varying modalities, spatiotemporal resolutions, and flow assumptions was explored. Additional hemodynamic metrics which have been demonstrated to be influential in other cardiovascular flows but yet to be tested in IA studies were also identified and considered. Ultimately this work provides a framework for future IA PIV studies as well as insight on using hemodynamic evaluations to assess the risk of growth and rupture of an IA, thereby taking steps towards enhancing the clinical utility of such analysis.