A resolved two-way coupled CFD/6-DOF approach for predicting embolus transport and the embolus-trapping efficiency of IVC filters

Kenneth I. Aycock, Robert L. Campbell, Keefe B. Manning, Brent A. Craven

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Inferior vena cava (IVC) filters are medical devices designed to provide a mechanical barrier to the passage of emboli from the deep veins of the legs to the heart and lungs. Despite decades of development and clinical use, IVC filters still fail to prevent the passage of all hazardous emboli. The objective of this study is to (1) develop a resolved two-way computational model of embolus transport, (2) provide verification and validation evidence for the model, and (3) demonstrate the ability of the model to predict the embolus-trapping efficiency of an IVC filter. Our model couples computational fluid dynamics simulations of blood flow to six-degree-of-freedom simulations of embolus transport and resolves the interactions between rigid, spherical emboli and the blood flow using an immersed boundary method. Following model development and numerical verification and validation of the computational approach against benchmark data from the literature, embolus transport simulations are performed in an idealized IVC geometry. Centered and tilted filter orientations are considered using a nonlinear finite element-based virtual filter placement procedure. A total of 2048 coupled CFD/6-DOF simulations are performed to predict the embolus-trapping statistics of the filter. The simulations predict that the embolus-trapping efficiency of the IVC filter increases with increasing embolus diameter and increasing embolus-to-blood density ratio. Tilted filter placement is found to decrease the embolus-trapping efficiency compared with centered filter placement. Multiple embolus-trapping locations are predicted for the IVC filter, and the trapping locations are predicted to shift upstream and toward the vessel wall with increasing embolus diameter. Simulations of the injection of successive emboli into the IVC are also performed and reveal that the embolus-trapping efficiency decreases with increasing thrombus load in the IVC filter. In future work, the computational tool could be used to investigate IVC filter design improvements, the effect of patient anatomy on embolus transport and IVC filter embolus-trapping efficiency, and, with further development and validation, optimal filter selection and placement on a patient-specific basis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)851-869
Number of pages19
JournalBiomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Mechanical Engineering


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