The pathology of the human abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) and its relationship to the later complication of intraluminal thrombus (ILT) formation remains unclear. The hemodynamics in the diseased abdominal aorta are hypothesized to be a key contributor to the formation and growth of ILT. The objective of this investigation is to establish a reliable 3D flow visualization method with corresponding validation tests with high confidence in order to provide insight into the basic hemodynamic features for a better understanding of hemodynamics in AAA pathology and seek potential treatment for AAA diseases. A stereoscopic particle image velocity (PIV) experiment was conducted using transparent patient-specific experimental AAA models (with and without ILT) at three axial planes. Results show that before ILT formation, a 3D vortex was generated in the AAA phantom. This geometry-related vortex was not observed after the formation of ILT, indicating its possible role in the subsequent appearance of ILT in this patient. It may indicate that a longer residence time of recirculated blood flow in the aortic lumen due to this vortex caused sufficient shear-induced platelet activation to develop ILT and maintain uniform flow conditions. Additionally, two computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeling codes (Fluent and an in-house cardiovascular CFD code) were compared with the two-dimensional, three-component velocity stereoscopic PIV data. Results showed that correlation coefficients of the out-of-plane velocity data between PIV and both CFD methods are greater than 0.85, demonstrating good quantitative agreement. The stereoscopic PIV study can be utilized as test case templates for ongoing efforts in cardiovascular CFD solver development. Likewise, it is envisaged that the patient-specific data may provide a benchmark for further studying hemodynamics of actual AAA, ILT, and their convolution effects under physiological conditions for clinical applications.

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