Influence of inlet boundary conditions on the local haemodynamics of intracranial aneurysms.
Haemodynamics is believed to play an important role in the initiation, growth and rupture of intracranial aneurysms. In this context, computational haemodynamics has been extensively used in an effort to establish correlations between flow variables and clinical outcome. It is common practice in the application of Dirichlet boundary conditions at domain inlets to specify transient velocities as either a flat (plug) profile or a spatially developed profile based on Womersley's analytical solution. This paper provides comparative haemodynamics measures for three typical cerebral aneurysms. Three dimentional rotational angiography images of aneurysms at three common locations, viz. basilar artery tip, internal carotid artery and middle cerebral artery were obtained. The computational tools being developed in the European project @neurIST were used to reconstruct the fluid domains and solve the unsteady Navier-Stokes equations, using in turn Womersley and plug-flow inlet velocity profiles. The effects of these assumptions were analysed and compared in terms of relevant haemodynamic variables within the aneurismal sac. For the aneurysm at the basilar tip geometries with different extensions of the afferent vasculature were considered to study the plausibility of a fully-developed axial flow at the inlet boundaries. The study shows that assumptions made on the velocity profile while specifying inlet boundary conditions have little influence on the local haemodynamics in the aneurysm, provided that a sufficient extension of the afferent vasculature is considered and that geometry is the primary determinant of the flow field within the aneurismal sac. For real geometries the Womersley profile is at best an unnecessary over-complication, and may even be worse than the plug profile in some anatomical locations (e.g. basilar confluence).