The infrarenal abdominal aorta is a common site for clinically significant atherosclerosis. As has been shown in other susceptible locations, vessel geometry, flow division rates, and pulsatility may result in hemodynamic conditions which influence the preferential localization of disease in the abdominal aorta segment. Pulsatile flow visualization was performed in a glass model of the aorta constructed from measurements of angiograms and cadaver aortas. Flow rates and pulsatile waveforms were varied to reflect typical physiological conditions. Under normal resting conditions, the flow patterns in the infrarenal aorta were more complex than those in the suprarenal location. Time varying vortex patterns appeared at the level of the renal arteries and propagated through the infrarenal aorta into the common iliac arteries. A region of oscillating velocity direction extended from the renal arteries to the aortic bifurcation along the posterior wall. Dye became trapped along the posterior wall, requiring several cardiac cycles for clearance. In contrast, there was rapid clearance of the dye in the anterior aorta. Under postprandial conditions, the flow patterns in the aorta were basically unchanged. Simulated exercise conditions created laminar hemodynamic features very different from the resting conditions, including a decrease in dye residence time. This study reveals significant timedependent variations in the hemodynamics of the abdominal aorta under differing physiologic conditions. Hemodynamic factors such as low wall shear stress, oscillating shear direction, and high particle residence time may be related to the clinically seen preferential plaque localization in the infrarenal aorta.

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