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Design of Anthropomorphic Flow Phantoms Based on Rapid Prototyping of Compliant Vessel Geometries

Ultrasound in Medicine & Biology
DOI: 10.1016/j.ultrasmedbio.2013.03.015
  • Vascular Ultrasound
  • Anthropomorphic Flow Phantom
  • Compliant Vessels
  • Rapid Prototyping
  • Stereolithography
  • Design
  • Mathematics
  • Medicine
  • Musicology
  • Physics


Abstract Anatomically realistic flow phantoms are essential experimental tools for vascular ultrasound. Here we describe how these flow phantoms can be efficiently developed via a rapid prototyping (RP) framework that involves direct fabrication of compliant vessel geometries. In this framework, anthropomorphic vessel models were drafted in computer-aided design software, and they were fabricated using stereolithography (one type of RP). To produce elastic vessels, a compliant photopolymer was used for stereolithography. We fabricated a series of compliant, diseased carotid bifurcation models with eccentric stenosis (50%) and plaque ulceration (types I and III), and they were used to form thin-walled flow phantoms by coupling the vessels to an agar-based tissue-mimicking material. These phantoms were found to yield Doppler spectrograms with significant spectral broadening and color flow images with mosaic patterns, as typical of disturbed flow under stenosed and ulcerated disease conditions. Also, their wall distension behavior was found to be similar to that observed in vivo, and this corresponded with the vessel wall’s average elastic modulus (391 kPa), which was within the nominal range for human arteries. The vessel material’s acoustic properties were found to be sub-optimal: the estimated average acoustic speed was 1801 m/s, and the attenuation coefficient was 1.58 dB/(mm·MHzn) with a power-law coefficient of 0.97. Such an acoustic mismatch nevertheless did not notably affect our Doppler spectrograms and color flow image results. These findings suggest that phantoms produced from our design framework have the potential to serve as ultrasound-compatible test beds that can simulate complex flow dynamics similar to those observed in real vasculature.

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