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Images reveal flow in the aorta

Posted on April 25, 2013

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With the help of a sound knowledge of fluid mechanics and the computational power of the Triolith supercomputer, Jonas Lantz has developed a technique where turbulence in the blood vessels can be calculated and the results of an operation can be simulated before it is carried out.

“The aim is to be able to help individual patients, to calculate turbulence and then to work out whether the individual needs an operation in order to get well. In the case of blood flow in an aorta, simple simulation models such as are sometimes used in industry are not suitable. Here there is a need for more advanced models and great computational power,” says Jonas Lantz, the newly-minted PhD at the Division of Applied Thermodynamics and Fluid Mechanics in the Department of Management and Engineering.

In one of his thesis articles, he showed that the method can be clinically applied; he followed one particular patient and saw with his own eyes that the method works and that the patient was indeed much better after the operation.

Jonas Lantz“It makes it especially nice to work directly for people,” says Lantz who has a master’s in Mechanical Engineering from Linköping University (LiU), and a thesis project where he worked on the cooling of the CERN particle accelerator.

“When you begin in mechanical engineering, you don’t think you’ll end up working with blood flow, but the basic engineering and computation methods are the same as when you work with gas turbines or cooling,” he explains.

His thesis concerns modelling and simulating the flow in the body’s blood vessels, particularly in the aorta, the biggest of them all.

“We visualise the blood flow with the help of magnetic resonance imaging and then make calculations to enhance the image, voxel by voxel. This is possible thanks to the computational power of the Triolith supercomputer,” he explains.

Researchers at LiU were also the first in the world to show how it is possible to measure turbulence in the bloodstream with aid of magnetic resonance imaging, and it is this work that Lantz has now taken a step further.

His method yields information about how blood flows, and with aid of visualisation this information becomes easy to grasp for the doctor providing treatment. In healthy vessels the blood flow is laminar – nice and even, in one direction – but if there is a constriction in the blood vessel, then swirling and unevenness – turbulence – occur in the flow and the heart has to work extra hard because the flow is inefficient.

With the aid of advanced mathematical models, Lantz is also able to decide how forces in the turbulent flow affect the outermost cell layer in the blood vessel. This information can be important when trying to understand how different cardiovascular diseases arise and develop.

Mechanical Engineer Jonas Lantz is continuing his research as a post-doc at the Department of Science and Technology (ITN) on Campus Norrköping, but he also works at CMIV, the Centre for Medical Image Science and Visualisation, on the University Hospital Campus (Campus US). He still has a foot in the Division of Applied Thermodynamics and Fluid Mechanics on Campus Valla.

“It is good that we could work things out this way. The 20 % of my contract time that I am on Valla, I supervise PhD students and run courses in CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics). I also run a CFD project course for future master’s graduates. It’s quite a lot of work, but it’s fun and helps develop my teaching, and it gives a lot back,” he says.

Related links

Thesis On Aortic Blood Flow Simulations, Scale-Resolved Image-Based CFD, Jonas Lantz, Applied Thermodynamics and Fluid Mechanics, Department of Management and Engineering, Linköping University. 2013.

Division of Applied Thermodynamics and Fluid Mechanics, IEI

Center for Medical Image Science (CMIV)

Also read on the LiU website: Vice-Chancellor inaugurated Triolith

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