Visualization experiments were performed to elucidate the complicated flow pattern in pulsatile flow through arterial bifurcations. Human common carotid arteries, which were made transparent, and glass-models simulating Y- and T-shaped bifurcations were used. Pulsatile flow with wave forms similar to those of arterial flow was generated with a piston pump, elastic tube, airchamber, and valves controlling the outflow resistance. Helically recirculating flow with a pattern similar to that of the horseshoe vortex produced around wall-based protuberances in circular tubes was observed in pulsatile flow through all the bifurcations used in the present study. This flow type, which we shall refer to as the horseshoe vortex, has also been demonstrated to occur at the human common carotid bifurcation in steady flow with Reynolds numbers above 100. Time-varying flows also produced the horseshoe vortex mostly during the decelerating phase. Fluid particles of dye solution approaching the bifurcation apex diverged, divided into two directions perpendicularly, and then showed helical motion representing the horseshoe vortex formation. While this helical flow was produced, the stagnation points appeared on the wall upstream of the apex. Their position was dependent upon the flow distribution ratio between the branches in the individual arteries. The region affected by the horseshoe vortex was smaller during pulsatile flow than during steady flow. Lowering the Reynolds number together with the Womersley number weakened the intensity of helical flow. A separation bubble, resulting from the divergence or wall roughness, was observed at the outer or inner wall of the branch vessels and made the flow more complicated.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.