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Estimation of the viscoelastic properties of vessel walls using a computational model and Doppler ultrasound
Balocco, Simone; Basset, Olivier; Courbebaisse, Guy; Boni, Enrico; Frangi Caregnato, Alejandro; Tortoli, Piero; Cachard, Christian
Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Human arteries affected by atherosclerosis are characterized by altered wall viscoelastic properties. The possibility of noninvasively assessing arterial viscoelasticity in vivo would significantly contribute to the early diagnosis and prevention of this disease. This paper presents a noniterative technique to estimate the viscoelastic parameters of a vascular wall Zener model. The approach requires the simultaneous measurement of flow variations and wall displacements, which can be provided by suitable ultrasound Doppler instruments. Viscoelastic parameters are estimated by fitting the theoretical constitutive equations to the experimental measurements using an ARMA parameter approach. The accuracy and sensitivity of the proposed method are tested using reference data generated by numerical simulations of arterial pulsation in which the physiological conditions and the viscoelastic parameters of the model can be suitably varied. The estimated values quantitatively agree with the reference values, showing that the only parameter affected by changing the physiological conditions is viscosity, whose relative error was about 27% even when a poor signal-to-noise ratio is simulated. Finally, the feasibility of the method is illustrated through three measurements made at different flow regimes on a cylindrical vessel phantom, yielding a parameter mean estimation error of 25%.
This work has been partially funded by the Industrial and Technological Development Centre (CDTI) within the CENIT Programme (CDTEAM Project), the EC @neurIST (IST-FP6-2004-027703) projects, by BQR INSA-Lyon and by the ItalianMinistry of University & Research (COFIN-PRIN 2005).
Sistema cardiovascular -- Malalties
Artèries -- Malalties
Arterial wall model
Noninvasive measurement
ARMA parameter fitting
© 2010, Institute of Physics (IOP). Published article available at
Institute of Physics (IOP)

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