The focus of my research is to develop a simulation method that is able to model the fluid-structure interaction (FSI) of biological systems in order to improve our understanding of why disease occur and provide guidance on how to treat them more efficiently.
As part of this simulation tool, I am using the lattice Boltzmann method (LBM) which is a non-traditional computation fluid dynamic (CFD) method. LBM lies between the macro scale and micros scale at what is often referred to as the mesoscale. The method involves modelling a number of fluid particles, that would otherwise be very computationally expensive to simulate individually, as a single packet of particles whose properties such a velocity, can be expressed via a probability distribution function. LBM is particularly suited to biological applications as it able to handle complex geometries fairly easily, such as those obtained from medical imaging, while the locality of the method allow parallelisation of the simulation across a number of computers reducing the overall simulation time and providing results faster. This could save crucial time in patient-specific cases.
The structural model that I use to couple to LBM is known as the V-model. This is model is categorised as a discrete element method where by a material is represented by a number of particles connected by bonds. The positions of the particles are updated through the force imparted on them by the connecting bonds. By allowing interaction between LBM and the V-Model, the mutual effect of fluid and structure can be determined e.g. how blood flow can change the properties of an artery wall and then in turn change the characteristics of the blood flow.
One of the applications currently being researched is that of improving the criteria for surgical intervention of abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA). Using 3D ultrasound techniques, 3D representations of the aneurysm can be built, specific to the patient in question. Using the FSI method being developed, a patient-specific simulation can be run. Using a number of metrics, the risk of the aneurysm rupturing can be calculated, providing clinicians with more information to base their decision on whether to intervene surgically.