Pressure and Flow Rate Changes During Contrast Injections in Cerebral Angiography: Correlation to Reflux Length

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Cerebral angiography involves the antegrade injection of contrast media through a catheter into the vasculature to visualize the region of interest under X-ray imaging. Depending on the injection and blood flow parameters, the bolus of contrast can propagate in the upstream direction and proximal to the catheter tip, at which point contrast is said to have refluxed. In this in vitro study, we investigate the relationship of fundamental hemodynamic variables to this phenomenon. Contrast injections were carried out under steady and pulsatile flow using various vessel diameters, catheter sizes, working fluid flow rates, and injection rates. The distance from the catheter tip to the proximal edge of the contrast bolus, called reflux length, was measured on the angiograms; the relation of this reflux length to different hemodynamic parameters was evaluated. Results show that contrast reflux occurs when the pressure distal to the catheter tip increases to be greater than the pressure proximal to the catheter tip. The ratio of this pressure difference to the baseline flow rate, called reflux resistance here, was linearly correlated to the normalized reflux length (reflux length/vessel diameter). Further, the ratio of blood flow to contrast fluid momentums, called the Craya–Curtet number, was correlated to the normalized reflux length via a sigmoid function. A sigmoid function was also found to be representative of the relationship between the ratio of the Reynolds numbers of blood flow to contrast and the normalized reflux length. As described by previous reports, catheter based contrast injections cause substantial increases in local flow and pressure. Contrast reflux should generally be avoided during standard antegrade angiography. Our study shows two specific correlations between contrast reflux length and baseline and intra-injection parameters that have not been published previously. Further studies need to be conducted to fully characterize the phenomena and to extract reliable indicators of clinical utility. Parameters relevant to cerebral angiography are studied here, but the essential principles are applicable to all angiographic procedures involving antegrade catheter injections.

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Conflict of interest

Author BK is partly employed by Vascular Simulations LLC. All other authors have stock ownership in Vascular Simulations LLC.

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No human or animal studies were carried out by the authors for this article.

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Correspondence to Chander Sadasivan.

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Associate Editor David Elad and Ajit P. Yoganathan oversaw the review of this article.

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Kovarovic, B., Woo, H.H., Fiorella, D. et al. Pressure and Flow Rate Changes During Contrast Injections in Cerebral Angiography: Correlation to Reflux Length. Cardiovasc Eng Tech 9, 226–239 (2018) doi:10.1007/s13239-018-0344-3

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  • Reflux length
  • Efflux length
  • Craya–Curtet number
  • Pressure gradient
  • Reflux resistance
  • Logistic function