Study of carotid arterial plaque stress for symptomatic and asymptomatic patients

H. Gao, Q. Long, Saroj Kumar Das, J. Halls, M. Graves, J. H. Gillard, Z. Y. Li

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31 Citations (Scopus)


Stroke is one of the leading causes of death in the world, resulting mostly from the sudden ruptures of atherosclerosis carotid plaques. Until now, the exact plaque rupture mechanism has not been fully understood, and also the plaque rupture risk stratification. The advanced multi-spectral magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has allowed the plaque components to be visualized in-vivo and reconstructed by computational modeling. In the study, plaque stress analysis using fully coupled fluid structure interaction was applied to 20 patients (12 symptomatic and 8 asymptomatic) reconstructed from in-vivo MRI, followed by a detailed biomechanics analysis, and morphological feature study. The locally extreme stress conditions can be found in the fibrous cap region, 85% at the plaque shoulder based on the present study cases. Local maximum stress values predicted in the plaque region were found to be significantly higher in symptomatic patients than that in asymptomatic patients (200 +/- 43 kPa vs. 127 +/- 37 kPa, p=0.001). Plaque stress level, defined by excluding 5% highest stress nodes in the fibrous cap region based on the accumulative histogram of stress experienced on the computational nodes in the fibrous cap, was also significantly higher in symptomatic patients than that in asymptomatic patients (154 +/- 32 kPa vs. 111 +/- 23 kPa, p < 0.05). Although there was no significant difference in lipid core size between the two patient groups, symptomatic group normally had a larger lipid core and a significantly thinner fibrous cap based on the reconstructed plaques using 3D interpolation from stacks of 2D contours. Plaques with a higher stenosis were more likely to have extreme stress conditions upstream of plaque throat. The combined analyses of plaque MR image and plaque stress will advance our understanding of plaque rupture, and provide a useful tool on assessing plaque rupture risk.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2551-2557
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 23 Sep 2011


  • rupture risk
  • structural-analysis
  • atherosclerotic plaques
  • fibrous cap thickness
  • in-vivo
  • circumferential stress
  • MRI
  • carotid plaque
  • reproducibility
  • vulnerability
  • high-resolution mri
  • FSI models
  • rupture
  • plaque stress analysis
  • carotid arterial plaque stress
  • symptomatic and asymptomatic patients


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