Finite element modeling of the circle of Willis from magnetic resonance data

Juan R. Cebral, Marcelo Castro, Orlando Soto, Rainald Löhner, Peter J. Yim, Noam Alperin

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This paper presents a methodology to construct realistic patient-specific computational fluid dynamics models of the circle of Willis (CoW) using magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) data. Anatomical models are reconstructed from MRS images using tubular deformable models along each arterial segment and a surface-merging algorithm. The resulting models are smoothed and used to generate finite element (FE) grids. The incompressible Navier-Stokes equations are solved using a stabilized FE formulation. Physiologic flow conditions are derived from phase-contrast MR velocity measurements. The methodology was tested on image data of a normal volunteer. A pulsatile flow solution was obtained. Measured flow rates were prescribed in the internal carotid arteries, vertebral arteries, middle cerebral arteries and interior cerebral arteries. Pressure boundary conditions were imposed in the posterior cerebral arteries. Visualization of the complex flow patterns and wall shear stress distributions were produced. Potential applications of these FE models include: study the role of the communicating arteries during arterial occlusions and after endovascular interventions, calculate transport of drugs, evaluate accuracy of 1D flow models, and evaluate vascular bed models used to impose boundary conditions when flow data is unavailable or incomplete.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-21
Number of pages11
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - Sep 22 2003
Externally publishedYes
EventMedical Imaging 2003: Physiology and Function: Methods, Systems, and Applications - San Diego, CA, United States
Duration: Feb 16 2003Feb 18 2003


  • Cerebral hemodynamics
  • Circle of Willis
  • Computational fluid dynamics
  • Magnetic resonance angiography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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