The purpose of the present study was to compare subject-specific magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-based computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations with time-resolved three-directional (3D) velocity-encoded phase-contrast MRI (4D PCMRI) measurements of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) velocity field in the cervical spinal subarachnoid space (SSS). Three-dimensional models of the cervical SSS were constructed based on MRI image segmentation and anatomical measurements for a healthy subject and patient with Chiari I malformation. CFD was used to simulate the CSF motion and compared to the 4D PCMRI measurements. Four-dimensional PCMRI measurements had much greater CSF velocities compared to CFD simulations (1.4 to 5.6× greater). Four-dimensional PCMRI and CFD both showed anterior and anterolateral dominance of CSF velocities, although this flow feature was more pronounced in 4D PCMRI measurements compared to CFD. CSF flow jets were present near the nerve rootlets and denticulate ligaments (NRDL) in the CFD simulation. Flow jets were visible in the 4D PCMRI measurements, although they were not clearly attributable to nerve rootlets. Inclusion of spinal cord NRDL in the cervical SSS does not fully explain the differences between velocities obtained from 4D PCMRI measurements and CFD simulations.

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