The influence of computational strategy on prediction of mechanical stress in carotid atherosclerotic plaques: comparison of 2D structure-only, 3D structure-only, one-way and fully coupled fluid-structure interaction analyses.


BACKGROUND: Compositional and morphological features of carotid atherosclerotic plaques provide complementary information to luminal stenosis in predicting clinical presentations. However, they alone cannot predict cerebrovascular risk. Mechanical stress within the plaque induced by cyclical changes in blood pressure has potential to assess plaque vulnerability. Various modeling strategies have been employed to predict stress, including 2D and 3D structure-only, 3D one-way and fully coupled fluid-structure interaction (FSI) simulations. However, differences in stress predictions using different strategies have not been assessed. METHODS: Maximum principal stress (Stress-P1) within 8 human carotid atherosclerotic plaques was calculated based on geometry reconstructed from in vivo computerized tomography and high resolution, multi-sequence magnetic resonance images. Stress-P1 within the diseased region predicted by 2D and 3D structure-only, and 3D one-way FSI simulations were compared to 3D fully coupled FSI analysis. RESULTS: Compared to 3D fully coupled FSI, 2D structure-only simulation significantly overestimated stress level (94.1 kPa [65.2, 117.3] vs. 85.5 kPa [64.4, 113.6]; median [inter-quartile range], p=0.0004). However, when slices around the bifurcation region were excluded, stresses predicted by 2D structure-only simulations showed a good correlation (R(2)=0.69) with values obtained from 3D fully coupled FSI analysis. 3D structure-only model produced a small yet statistically significant stress overestimation compared to 3D fully coupled FSI (86.8 kPa [66.3, 115.8] vs. 85.5 kPa [64.4, 113.6]; p