Medicine & Health

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  • (2022) Gunasekera, Sanjiv
    The arteriovenous fistula (AVF) is a vasculature created for end-stage renal disease patients who undergo haemodialysis. This vasculature is often affected by stenosis in the juxta-anastomotic (JXA) region and the presence of disturbed haemodynamics within the vessel is known to initiate such diseased conditions. A novel treatment involving the implantation of a flexible stent in the JXA region has shown potential for retaining healthy AVFs. Only a limited number of experimental studies have been conducted to understand the disturbed flow conditions, while the impact of stent implantation on the haemodynamics within the AVF is yet to be explored. The study was initiated by developing a benchtop patient-specific AVF model to conduct a Tomographic Particle Image Velocimetry (Tomo-PIV) measurement. The subsequent temporally resolved volumetric velocity field was phase-averaged to quantify fluctuations occurring over the inlet pulsatile conditions. It was noted that high turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) was generated at the JXA region. To study the effects of the stent implantation, Large Eddy Simulations (LES) comparing the AVF geometry with and without the presence of the stent implantation were conducted. The trajectory of the flow in the stented case was funnelled within the stent encapsulated region which in turn, contained the disturbed flow within the stent lumen while mitigating the generation of turbulence. Consequently, the distribution of adverse wall shear stress (WSS) in the stented region was much lower compared to that of the `stent-absent' case. Simulations were also conducted on the diseased patient AVF, before the stent implantation, to make an overall assessment of the effect of treatment. Larger and persistent regions of high TKE were noted in the vessel downstream of the stenosis despite the lower velocity of flow in the diseased model. In summary, the stent implantation in the patient AVF showed the ability to funnel flow disturbances away from the vessel wall, thereby leading to lower adverse WSS distributions. The presence of the stent also mitigated turbulence generation. These findings provide valuable insight into the favourable haemodynamic effects of this novel endovascular procedure, thus, substantiating this treatment strategy to treat vascular disease in AVFs.

  • (2021) Ng, Olivia
    The arteriovenous fistula (AVF) is a surgically-made vascular structure connecting an artery to a vein. It is the optimal form of vascular access for haemodialysis-dependent end-stage renal disease patients. However, AVF are prone to access dysfunction through the formation of stenoses, which compromise the structure’s utility. To date, a plethora of clinical models are used to predict AVF formation failure based on patient factors and other models predicting late AVF failure by assessing haemodynamics and quantifying disturbed flow behaviours and wall shear stress metrics with stenosis formation. That said, inconsistencies were identified in the correlation between these metrics and diseased AVFs. This thesis aims to assess the suitability of another haemodynamic-related metric, resistance, derived from pressure drop and flow rates through patient-specific CFD modelling, for diagnosing and predicting AVF failure. A three-dimensional ultrasound scanning system was used to obtain patient-specific geometry and flow profiles, used for CFD models which were then analysed, with resistance calculated for each patient. The significance of patient-specific CFD modelling was demonstrated in its usefulness to generate a patient-targeted indicator of diseased AVF. To study the effectiveness of resistance as a metric, the relationship between CFD-derived resistance and the potential for AVF failure was evaluated, starting with classification of resistance results among patients who had undergone treatment for stenosis. An exploratory study into the suitability of CFD-derived resistance and its association with patients’ AVF conditions was further conducted by classifying data from a larger patient dataset and fitting the classified data to a multilevel regression model. CFD-derived resistance was found to be higher at the proximal vein of problematic AVF, however this figure was 76% lower among patients who had undergone stenosis treatment. Meanwhile, no correlation was found between resistance at the proximal artery and patency status. An area under curve of 92.1% was found from the receiver operating characteristic analysis, noting an outstanding discrimination of the classification. CFD-derived resistance appears to be a promising metric in the assessment of a suitable diagnostic marker for AVF failure. This research concludes with aspirations for clinical implementation of a related system, alongside routine surveillance of AVF.

  • (2023) Ramakrishna, Vivek
    Low back pain, the worldwide leading cause of disability, is commonly treated with lumbar interbody fusion surgery to address degeneration, instability, deformity, and trauma of the spine. Following fusion surgery, nearly 20% experience complications requiring reoperation while 1 in 3 do not experience a meaningful improvement in pain. Implant subsidence and pseudarthrosis in particular present a multifaceted challenge in the management of a patient’s painful symptoms. Given the diversity of fusion approaches, materials, and instrumentation, further inputs are required across the treatment spectrum to prevent and manage complications. This thesis comprises biomechanical studies on lumbar spinal fusion that provide new insights into spinal fusion surgery from preoperative planning to postoperative monitoring. A computational model, using the finite element method, is developed to quantify the biomechanical impact of temporal ossification on the spine, examining how the fusion mass stiffness affects loads on the implant and subsequent subsidence risk, while bony growth into the endplates affects load-distribution among the surrounding spinal structures. The computational modelling approach is extended to provide biomechanical inputs to surgical decisions regarding posterior fixation. Where a patient is not clinically pre-disposed to subsidence or pseudarthrosis, the results suggest unilateral fixation is a more economical choice than bilateral fixation to stabilise the joint. While finite element modelling can inform pre-surgical planning, effective postoperative monitoring currently remains a clinical challenge. Periodic radiological follow-up to assess bony fusion is subjective and unreliable. This thesis describes the development of a ‘smart’ interbody cage capable of taking direct measurements from the implant for monitoring fusion progression and complication risk. Biomechanical testing of the ‘smart’ implant demonstrated its ability to distinguish between graft and endplate stiffness states. The device is prepared for wireless actualisation by investigating sensor optimisation and telemetry. The results show that near-field communication is a feasible approach for wireless power and data transfer in this setting, notwithstanding further architectural optimisation required, while a combination of strain and pressure sensors will be more mechanically and clinically informative. Further work in computational modelling of the spine and ‘smart’ implants will enable personalised healthcare for low back pain, and the results presented in this thesis are a step in this direction.