The effects of time-varying curvature on velocity profiles in a model of the coronary arteries.
Blood flow patterns in the coronary arteries are of interest due to their possible involvement in atherosclerosis localization. Spatial variations in hemodynamic flow patterns are predominantly determined by the vessel geometry. The coronary arteries represent a unique situation in the cardiovascular system because their geometry undergoes large dynamic variations during each cardiac cycle due to the contraction of the heart. This study was initiated to analyze the effects of time-varying curvature on flow velocity profiles in a curved tube model of the coronary arteries. An in vitro flow model was constructed, which consisted of a flexible curved tube through which fluid flowed under a steady imposed pressure gradient. The radius of curvature of the tube was varied in time using a stepper motor and carriage. Two different deformation configurations were used to determine if variations in center of curvature displacement affected the velocity profiles. It was found in both cases that the skewing of the axial velocity profile depended on the instantaneous dynamic vessel movement, with maximal skewing occurring when the radius of curvature was in transition from the minimum to the maximum value. The change in skewing was greater for the case where carriage moved obliquely to the main direction of flow than when the carriage moved perpendicularly. Although this study was limited to relatively low values of the radius of curvature and change in curvature, an initial understanding of this flow situation was obtained which may lead to the development of more physiologic models.