Embolus trajectory through a physical replica of the major cerebral arteries

Chung, Emma L.; Hague, James P.; Chanrion, Marie-Anne; Ramnarine, Kumar V.; Katsogridakis, Emmanuel and Evans, David H. (2010). Embolus trajectory through a physical replica of the major cerebral arteries. Stroke, 41(4) pp. 647–652.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1161/STROKEAHA.109.574400


Background and Purpose— The observed distribution of cerebral infarcts varies markedly from expectations based on blood-flow volume or Doppler embolus detection. In this study, we used an in vitro model of the cerebral arteries to test whether embolus microspheres encountering the circle of Willis are carried proportionally to volume flow or express a preferred trajectory related to arterial morphology or embolus size.

Methods— Our model consisted of a patient-specific silicone replica of the cerebral macrocirculation featuring physiologically realistic pulsatile flow of a blood-mimicking fluid at approximately 1000 mL/min and an input pressure of approximately 150/70 mm Hg. Particles of 200, 500, and 1000 µm diameter with equivalent density to thrombus were introduced to the carotid arteries and counted on exiting the model outlets.

Results— The middle cerebral arteries (MCAs) of the replica attracted a disproportionate number of emboli compared with the anterior cerebral arteries; 98%±3% of 1000 µm and 93%±2% of 500 µm emboli entered the MCA compared with 82%±5% of the flow. The observed distribution of large emboli was consistent with the ratio of MCA:anterior cerebral artery infarcts, approximately 95% of which occur in territories supplied by the MCA. With decreasing embolus size, the distribution of emboli approaches that of the flow (approximately 89% of 200 µm emboli took the MCA).

Conclusions— Embolus trajectory through the cerebral arteries is dependent on embolus size and strongly favors the MCA for large emboli. The 70:30 ratio of MCA:anterior cerebral artery emboli observed by Doppler ultrasound is consistent with the trajectories of small emboli that tend to be asymptomatic.

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