A realistic pulsatile flow was passed through a cast of the aortic bifurcation of a 63-yr-old male with mild atherosclerosis, and a laser Doppler anemometer was used to measure fluid velocities in the cast at 15 selected sites near the lateral and medial walls. Intimal, medial and adventitial thicknesses were measured and sudanophilia was scored at corresponding sites in the vessel from which the cast had been made. A negative correlation was found between intimal thickness (IT) and wall shear rate. The strongest negative correlation (p<0.005) was between IT and “pulse shear rate” (PSR), defined by analogy with pulse pressure. Sudanophilia also correlated negatively with PSR (p<0.01). Medial thickness correlated positively with shear rate, and most strongly with the mean (i.e., time-average) rate (p<0.005). From an analysis of the fluid mechanical data, it appears possible to separate the effects of bifurcation geometry and the shape of the arterial cross section on inter facial shear.

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