Particle Trajectories and Agglomeration/Accumulation in Branching Arteries subjected to Orbital Atherectomy

Zach L Helgeson a, Jed S Jenkins a, John P Abraham a, *, Ephraim M Sparrow b
a Laboratory for Heat Transfer and Fluid Flow Practice, University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN, USA, 55105-1079
b Laboratory for Heat Transfer and Fluid Flow Practice, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA, 55455-0111

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© Helgeson et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Laboratory for Heat Transfer and Fluid Flow Practice, University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN, 55105-1079, USA; Tel: 651-962-5766; Fax: 651-962-6419; E-mail:



The transport of particles in surrogate and actual arterial geometries has been investigated synergistically by experimentation and numerical simulation. The motivating application for this work is orbital atherectomy which spawns a particle cloud in the process of debulking plaque from arterial walls.


Paired simulations and experiments were performed to prove the capability of the simulation model to predict both fluid and particle motions in branched arterial geometries. The verified model was then employed to predict the pattern of fluid flow in an actual multi-branched arterial geometry, including the flowrates passing through each of the individual branches. These predictions are in very good agreement with experimental data. Focus was then shifted to the issues of particle agglomeration within the flowing fluid and particle accumulation on the vessel walls. Once again, a synergistic approach was used. Flow visualization was employed to track the particle motions and to identify possible particle agglomeration within the fluid.

Results and Conclusions:

Accumulation of particles on walls was identified by measuring size distributions of effluent and residue within the artery. Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) evaluation showed evidence of a size-based sorting as the particles passed through vessels. It was found that plaque-facsimile particles resisted particle-particle agglomeration. They also did not accumulate to the wall of the facsimile artery. In addition, simulations showed that if particle-wall accumulation were to occur, it would be limited to very small regions in the artery branches.

Keywords: Orbital atherectomy, particle flow, blood flow, particle trajectories..