METHODS: Eight internal carotid arteries from different medical centers were diagnosed as stenosed internal carotid arteries, as plaques were found at different locations on the vessel. A computational fluid dynamics solver was developed based on an open-source code (OpenFOAM) to test the flow ratio and energy loss of those stenosed internal carotid arteries. For comparison, a healthy internal carotid artery and an idealized internal carotid artery model have also been tested and compared with stenosed internal carotid artery in terms of flow ratio and energy loss.
RESULTS: We found that at a given common carotid artery bifurcation, there must be a certain flow distribution in the internal carotid artery and external carotid artery, for which the total energy loss at the bifurcation is at a minimum; for a given common carotid artery flow rate, an irregular shaped plaque at the bifurcation constantly resulted in a large value of minimization of energy loss. Thus, minimization of energy loss can be used as an indicator for the estimation of internal carotid artery stenosis.