In vitro Biomodels in Stenotic Arteries to Perform Blood Analogues Flow Visualizations and Measurements: A Review

Violeta Carvalho1, *, Inês Maia2, Andrews Souza3, João Ribeiro3, 4, Pedro Costa5, H. Puga6, Senhorinha Teixeira7, Rui A. Lima1, 8
1 METRICS, Minho University, Guimarães, Portugal
2 Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisboa, Portugal
3 Instituto Politécnico de Bragança, Bragança, Portugal
4 CIMO, Instituto Politécnico de Bragança, Bragança, Portugal
5 BIOFABICS, Rua Alfredo Allen 455, 4200-135, Porto, Portugal
6 CMEMS, Minho University, Guimarães, Portugal
7 Algoritmi, Minho University, Guimarães, Portugal
8 CEFT, Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto, Porto, Portugal

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© 2020 Carvalho et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Minho University, Braga, Portugal; E-mail:


Cardiovascular diseases are one of the leading causes of death globally and the most common pathological process is atherosclerosis. Over the years, these cardiovascular complications have been extensively studied by applying in vivo, in vitro and numerical methods (in silico). In vivo studies represent more accurately the physiological conditions and provide the most realistic data. Nevertheless, these approaches are expensive, and it is complex to control several physiological variables. Hence, the continuous effort to find reliable alternative methods has been growing. In the last decades, numerical simulations have been widely used to assess the blood flow behavior in stenotic arteries and, consequently, providing insights into the cardiovascular disease condition, its progression and therapeutic optimization. However, it is necessary to ensure its accuracy and reliability by comparing the numerical simulations with clinical and experimental data. For this reason, with the progress of the in vitro flow measurement techniques and rapid prototyping, experimental investigation of hemodynamics has gained widespread attention. The present work reviews state-of-the-art in vitro macro-scale arterial stenotic biomodels for flow measurements, summarizing the different fabrication methods, blood analogues and highlighting advantages and limitations of the most used techniques.

Keywords: Blood analogues, Blood flow, Cardiovascular diseases, Flow measurements, Hemodynamics, In vitro, Rapid prototyping, Stenosis.