Does the principle of minimum work apply at the carotid bifurcation

a retrospective cohort study

Richard J. Beare, Gita Das, Mandy Ren, Winston Chong, Matthew D. Sinnott, James E. Hilton, Velandai Srikanth, Thanh G. Phan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)


Background: There is recent interest in the role of carotid bifurcation anatomy, geometry and hemodynamic factors in the pathogenesis of carotid artery atherosclerosis. Certain anatomical and geometric configurations at the carotid bifurcation have been linked to disturbed flow. It has been proposed that vascular dimensions are selected to minimize energy required to maintain blood flow, and that this occurs when an exponent of 3 relates the radii of parent and daughter arteries. We evaluate whether the dimensions of bifurcation of the extracranial carotid artery follow this principle of minimum work.Methods: This study involved subjects who had computed tomographic angiography (CTA) at our institution between 2006 and 2007. Radii of the common, internal and external carotid arteries were determined. The exponent was determined for individual bifurcations using numerical methods and for the sample using nonlinear regression.Results: Mean age for 45 participants was 56.9 ± 16.5 years with 26 males. Prevalence of vascular risk factors was: hypertension-48%, smoking-23%, diabetes-16.7%, hyperlipidemia-51%, ischemic heart disease-18.7%.The value of the exponent ranged from 1.3 to 1.6, depending on estimation methodology.Conclusions: The principle of minimum work (defined by an exponent of 3) may not apply at the carotid bifurcation. Additional factors may play a role in the relationship between the radii of the parent and daughter vessels.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalBMC Medical Imaging
Publication statusPublished - 24 Aug 2011
Externally publishedYes

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