Influence of microcalcifications on vulnerable plaque mechanics using FSI modeling

Danny Bluestein, Yared Alemu, Idit Avrahami, Morteza Gharib, Kris Dumont, John J. Ricotta, Shmuel Einav

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

154 Scopus citations


Sudden heart attacks remain one of the primary causes of premature death in the developed world. Asymptomatic vulnerable plaques that rupture are believed to prompt such fatal heart attacks and strokes. The role of microcalcifications in the vulnerable plaque rupture mechanics is still debated. Recent studies suggest the microcalcifications increase the plaque vulnerability. In this manuscript we present a numerical study of the role of microcalcifications in plaque vulnerability in an eccentric stenosis model using a transient fluid-structure interaction (FSI) analysis. Two cases are being compared (i) in the absence of a microcalcification (ii) with a microcalcification spot fully embedded in the fibrous cap. Critical plaque stress/strain conditions were affected considerably by the presence of a calcified spot, and were dependent on the timing (phase) during the flow cycle. The vulnerable plaque with the embedded calcification spot presented higher wall stress concentration region in the fibrous cap a bit upstream to the calcified spot, with stress propagating to the deformable parts of the structure around the calcified spot. Following previous studies, this finding supports the hypothesis that microcalcifications increase the plaque vulnerability. Further studies in which the effect of additional microcalcifications and parametric studies of critical plaque cap thickness based on plaque properties and thickness, will help to establish the mechanism by which microcalcifications weaken the plaque and may lead to its rupture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1111-1118
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Atherosclerosis
  • FSI
  • Fibrous cap
  • Microcalcification
  • Numerical modeling
  • Rupture
  • Vulnerable plaque


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