Carotid atheroma rupture observed in vivo and FSI-predicted stress distribution based on pre-rupture imaging

Joseph R. Leach, Vitaliy L. Rayz, Bruno Soares, Max Wintermark, Mohammad R.K. Mofrad, David Saloner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Atherosclerosis at the carotid bifurcation is a major risk factor for stroke. As mechanical forces may impact lesion stability, finite element studies have been conducted on models of diseased vessels to elucidate the effects of lesion characteristics on the stresses within plaque materials. It is hoped that patient-specific biomechanical analyses may serve clinically to assess the rupture potential for any particular lesion, allowing better stratification of patients into the most appropriate treatments. Due to a sparsity of in vivo plaque rupture data, the relationship between various mechanical descriptors such as stresses or strains and rupture vulnerability is incompletely known, and the patient-specific utility of biomechanical analyses is unclear. In this article, we present a comparison between carotid atheroma rupture observed in vivo and the plaque stress distribution from fluid-structure interaction analysis based on pre-rupture medical imaging. The effects of image resolution are explored and the calculated stress fields are shown to vary by as much as 50% with sub-pixel geometric uncertainty. Within these bounds, we find a region of pronounced elevation in stress within the fibrous plaque layer of the lesion with a location and extent corresponding to that of the observed site of plaque rupture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2748-2765
Number of pages18
JournalAnnals of biomedical engineering
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Image-based
  • Patient-specific
  • Vulnerable plaque

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering


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