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On the anatomical definition of arterial networks in blood flow simulations: comparison of detailed and simplified models

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The goal of this work is to assess the impact of vascular anatomy definition degree in the predictions of blood flow models of the arterial network. To this end, results obtained with an anatomically detailed network containing over 2000 vessels are systematically compared with those obtained with an anatomically simplified network containing the main 86 vessels, the latter being a truncated version of the former one. The comparison is performed quantitatively and qualitatively in terms of pressure and flow rate waveforms, wave intensity analysis and impedance analysis. Comparisons are performed under physiological conditions and for the case of common carotid artery occlusion. Mechanisms of blood flow delivery to the brain, as well as different blood flow steal phenomena, are unveiled in light of model predictions. Results show that detailed and simplified models are in reasonable agreement regarding the hemodynamics in larger vessels and in healthy scenarios. The anatomically detailed arterial network features improved predictive capabilities at peripheral vessels. Moreover, discrepancies between models are substantially accentuated in the case of anatomical variations or abnormal hemodynamic conditions. We conclude that physiologically meaningful agreement between models is obtained for normal hemodynamic conditions. This agreement rapidly deteriorates for abnormal blood flow conditions such as those caused by total arterial occlusion. Differences are even larger when modifications of the vascular anatomy are considered. This rational comparison allows us to gain insight into the need for anatomically detailed arterial networks when addressing complex hemodynamic interactions.

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This work was partially supported by the Brazilian agencies CNPq (465586/2014-7, 407751/2018-1) and FAPERJ (E26-203.283/2016). The support of these agencies is gratefully acknowledged.

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Correspondence to Pablo J. Blanco.

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Blanco, P.J., Müller, L.O., Watanabe, S.M. et al. On the anatomical definition of arterial networks in blood flow simulations: comparison of detailed and simplified models. Biomech Model Mechanobiol (2020).

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  • Blood flow
  • Wave propagation
  • Arterial function
  • Carotid occlusion
  • Carotid steal