Trifurcated arch grafts (3-branch grafts) are now being used to repair the thoracic aorta in addition to conventional arch grafts (4-branch grafts). The anatomical shape of the 3-branch graft is different from the original vessel, so it is necessary for clinical application to evaluate blood flow distribution in the graft to assess whether there is adequate blood flow to the target organs. To achieve this, we developed a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) method to evaluate blood flow distribution in the grafts. Aortic blood flow was measured by phase-contrast magnetic resonance imaging (PC-MRI), and flow distribution into the branched vessels was obtained. The MRI image was used to create a patient-specific image model that represents the geometry of the aortic arch. The CFD analysis method was employed to determine a boundary condition of the blood flow analysis in the aorta using a patient-specific image model. We also created simplified models of 4-branch and 3-branch grafts and used our CFD analysis method to compare blood flow distribution among simplified models. It was found that blood flow distribution in the descending aorta was 71.3 % for the 4-branch graft and 67.7 % for the 3-branch graft, indicating that a sum of branching flow in the 3-branch graft was almost the same as the one in the 4-branch graft. Therefore, there is no major concern about implanting a new 3-branch graft. Our CFD analysis method may be applied to estimate blood flow distribution of a newly developed vascular graft prior to its clinical use and provide useful information for safe use of the graft.
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