Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) is emerging as a powerful tool for researching the role of blood flow in disease processes. Modern clinical imaging technology such as magnetic resonance (MR) angiography and computed tomography (CT) can provide very high resolution information about the geometry of patients’ vasculature for such modeling. However, in many situations, patient-specific inlet velocity information is not available. In these situations, a simplified velocity profile must be selected. In this study, we sought to identify how idealized inlet velocity profiles (blunt flow, parabolic flow, and Womersley flow) affect patient-specific CFD results when compared to simulations employing the real measured velocity profile for each patient. Focusing on the carotid bifurcation, a site prone to atherosclerosis because of its branching geometry and oscillatory flow patterns, we investigated the effect of inlet flow assumptions on hemodynamic parameters known to be associated with atherosclerosis and vascular disease, namely mean wall shear stress (WSS) and oscillatory shear index (OSI) [1].

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