A new era for medicine: the use of blood flow modelling for safer treatment of vascular disease
The use of computer models to simulate the functioning of the human body is viewed increasingly as one of the most promising tools to embrace and better understand the complexity of human physiology, and therefore improve prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of human disease. In my project for Le Studium, I use computer models of blood flowing in human arteries to understand the causes behind complications that arise when treating intracranial aneurysms. These are balloon-like focal deformations of a blood vessel in the brain, carrying an inherent risk of rupture and bleeding with severe consequences for the patient. A minimally invasive treatment option consists of deploying a medical device (Flow Diverting Stent or FDS) to trigger blood coagulation inside the aneurysmal sac to stop or prevent any existing or potential bleeding. In certain circumstances this treatment causes the occlusion of the arteries surrounding the aneurysm, leading to permanent and often irreversible damage (stroke). There is a strong consensus in the literature that the underlying causes might be associated with stent-induced adverse alterations to blood flow in the vascular network surrounding the aneurysm. These alterations to blood flow can be analysed using a computer model that reproduces, virtually and accurately, the mechanical and anatomical environment of the problem. This project will attempt to identify the possible cause-effect mechanisms, mediated by blood flow, which may explain under what circumstances the deployment of an FDS causes significant changes to flow and ultimately vessel occlusion. The long-term aim is that of providing guidance to clinicians towards a safer and more effective treatment of this condition.
Dr Alberto Marzo,
LE STUDIUM Visiting Researcher