A minimally diseased (mean intimal thickness = 56 μm) human aortic bifurcation was replicated in rigid and compliant flow-through casts. Both casts were perfused with physiological flow waves having the same Reynolds and unsteadiness numbers; the pulse pressure in the compliant cast produced radial strains similar to those expected from post-mortem measurements of the compliance of the original tissue. The compliant cast was perfused with a Newtonian fluid and one whose rheology was closer to that of blood. Wall shear rate histories were estimated from near-wall velocities obtained by laser Doppler velocimetry at identical sites in both casts. Intimal thickness was measured at corresponding sites in the original vessel and linear regressions were performed between these thicknesses and several normalized shear rate measures obtained from the histories. The correlations showed a positive slope—that is, the intima was thicker at sites exposed to higher shear rates—consistent with earlier results for relatively healthy vessels, but their significance was often poor. There was no significant effect of either model compliance or fluid rheology on the slopes of the correlations of intimal thickness against any normalized shear rate measure.

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