Mahsa Dabagh, Priya Nair, John Gounley, David Frakes, L. Fernando Gonzalez and Amanda Randles
The growth of cerebral aneurysms is linked to local hemodynamic conditions, but the driving mechanisms of the growth are poorly understood. The goal of this study was to examine the association between intraaneurysmal hemodynamic features and areas of aneurysm growth, to present the key hemodynamic parameters essential for an accurate prediction of the growth, and to gain a deeper understanding of the underlying mechanisms. Patient-specific images of a growing cerebral aneurysm in 3 different growth stages acquired over a period of 40 months were segmented and reconstructed. A unique aspect of this patient-specific case study was that while one side of the aneurysm stayed stable, the other side continued to grow. This unique case enabled the authors to examine their aims in the same patient with parent and daughter arteries under the same inlet flow conditions. Pulsatile flow in the aneurysm models was simulated using computational fluid dynamics and was validated with in vitro experiments using particle image velocimetry measurements. The authors’ detailed analysis of intrasaccular hemodynamics linked the growing regions of aneurysms to flow instabilities and complex vortex structures. Extremely low velocities were observed at or around the center of the unstable vortex structure, which matched well with the growing regions of the studied cerebral aneurysm. Furthermore, the authors observed that the aneurysm wall regions with a growth greater than 0.5 mm coincided with wall regions of lower (< 0.5 Pa) time-averaged wall shear stress (TAWSS), lower instantaneous (< 0.5 Pa) wall shear stress (WSS), and high (> 0.1) oscillatory shear index (OSI). To determine which set of parameters can best identify growing and nongrowing aneurysms, the authors performed statistical analysis for consecutive stages of the growing CA. The results demonstrated that the combination of TAWSS and the distance from the center of the vortical structure has the highest sensitivity and positive predictive value, and relatively high specificity and negative predictive value. These findings suggest that an unstable, recirculating flow structure within the aneurysm sac created in the region adjacent to the aneurysm wall with low TAWSS may be introduced as an accurate criterion to explain the hemodynamic conditions predisposing the aneurysm to growth. The authors’ findings are based on one patient’s data set, but the study lays out the justification for future large-scale verification. The authors’ findings can assist clinicians in differentiating stable and growing aneurysms during preinterventional planning.