Effect of reverse flow on the pattern of wall shear stress near arterial branches

A. Kazakidi, A. M. Plata, S. J. Sherwin, P. D. Weinberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Atherosclerotic lesions have a patchy distribution within arteries that suggests a controlling influence of haemodynamic stresses on their development. The distribution near aortic branches varies with age and species, perhaps reflecting differences in these stresses. Our previous work, which assumed steady flow, revealed a dependence of wall shear stress (WSS) patterns on Reynolds number and side-branch flow rate. Here, we examine effects of pulsatile flow. Flow and WSS patterns were computed by applying high-order unstructured spectral/ hp element methods to the Newtonian incompressible Navier-Stokes equations in a geometrically simplified model of an aorto-intercostal junction. The effect of pulsatile but non-reversing side-branch flow was small; the aortic WSS pattern resembled that obtained under steady flow conditions, with high WSS upstream and downstream of the branch. When flow in the side branch or in the aortic near-wall region reversed during part of the cycle, significantly different instantaneous patterns were generated, with low WSS appearing upstream and downstream. Time-averaged WSS was similar to the steady flow case, reflecting the short duration of these events, but patterns of the oscillatory shear index for reversing aortic near-wall flow were profoundly altered. Effects of reverse flow may help explain the different distributions of lesions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1594-1603
Number of pages10
Issue number64
Early online date20 Apr 2011
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2011


  • arterial branches
  • atherosclerosis
  • haemodynamics
  • oscillatory shear index
  • reverse flow
  • wall shear stress


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