Anatomical flow phantoms of the nonplanar carotid bifurcation, part 1: computer-aided design and fabrication

Doppler ultrasound is widely used in the diagnosis and monitoring of arterial disease. Current clinical measurement systems make use of continuous and pulsed ultrasound to measure blood flow velocity; however, the uncertainty associated with these measurements is great, which has serious implications for the screening of patients for treatment. Because local blood flow dynamics depend to a great extent on the geometry of the affected vessels, there is a need to develop anatomically accurate arterial flow phantoms with which to assess the accuracy of Doppler blood flow measurements made in diseased vessels. In this paper, we describe the computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD-CAM) techniques that we used to fabricate anatomical flow phantoms based on images acquired by time-of-flight magnetic resonance imaging (TOF-MRI). Three-dimensional CAD models of the carotid bifurcation were generated from data acquired from sequential MRI slice scans, from which solid master patterns were made by means of stereolithography. Thereafter, an investment casting procedure was used to fabricate identical flow phantoms for use in parallel experiments involving both laser and Doppler ultrasound measurement techniques.