Should vasoconstriction be treated or not?

If deposits have formed in arteries that threaten to block the blood vessel or become loose and might block smaller vessels, doctors are faced with the question of whether and how they should intervene. Methods like balloon dilatation are not without risk. Mechanical engineers Professor Daniel Balzani and Professor Klaus Hackl at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) are researching into modeling the properties of blood vessels so precisely that it is possible to predict that risk. This approach could become a decision aid in everyday clinical practice.

Treatment complications

In balloon dilation, a small balloon is pushed from the patient’s groin through a catheter to the calcified area of the artery, where it is inflated with pressure. This causes the vessel to dilate, and the blood can flow again. However, if the pressure is too high, the blood vessel is dilated too much and the plaque can tear. Or the damage to the vessel wall can be so severe that complications arise at a later point.

In order to predict and avoid such incidents, researchers make complex calculations. They simulate the behavior of elastic tissue such as blood vessels. In the process, Daniel Balzani and his team focus on calculating the risk of possible damage in advance. However, calculating such a risk is anything but simple.

Growing best possible materials

In addition to the varying orientation of fibers, many other effects must be taken into account in simulations, those including the elasticity of the vessel wall, the residual tension in the artery, the activity of the smooth muscle cells that surround the vessel and actively influence its diameter, and the damage caused by possible overstretching of the vessel. Not to mention the properties of the plaques that are responsible for the narrowing of blood vessels.

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