4D flow analysis of BAV-Related fluid-dynamic alterations: Evidences of wall shear stress alterations in absence of clinically-relevant aortic anatomical remodeling

Filippo Piatti, Francesco Sturla, Malenka M. Bissell, Selene Pirola, Massimo Lombardi, Igor Nesteruk, Alessandro Della Corte, Alberto C. Alberto, Emiliano Votta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bicuspid aortic valve (BAV) is the most common congenital cardiac disease and is a foremost risk factor for aortopathies. Despite the genetic basis of BAV and of the associated aortopathies, BAV-related alterations in aortic fluid-dynamics, and particularly in wall shear stresses (WSSs), likely play a role in the progression of aortopathy, and may contribute to its pathogenesis. To test whether WSS may trigger aortopathy, in this study we used 4D Flow sequences of phase-contrast cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (CMR) to quantitatively compare the in vivo fluid dynamics in the thoracic aorta of two groups of subjects: (i) five prospectively enrolled young patients with normo-functional BAV and with no aortic dilation and (ii) ten age-matched healthy volunteers. Through the semi-automated processing of 4D Flow data, the aortic bulk flow at peak systole was quantified, and WSSs acting on the endothelium of the ascending aorta were characterized throughout the systolic phase in terms of magnitude and time-dependency through a method recently developed by our group. Variables computed for each BAV patient were compared vs. the corresponding distribution of values obtained for healthy controls. In BAV patients, ascending aorta diameter was measured on cine-CMR images at baseline and at 3-year follow-up. As compared to controls, normo-functional BAV patients were characterized by minor bulk flow disturbances at peak systole. However, they were characterized by evident alterations of WSS distribution and peak values in the ascending aorta. In particular, in four BAV patients, who were characterized by right-left leaflet fusion, WSS peak values exceeded by 27-46% the 90th percentile of the distribution obtained for healthy volunteers. Only in the BAV patient with right-non-coronary leaflet fusion the same threshold was exceeded by 132%. Also, evident alterations in the time-dependency of WSS magnitude and direction were observed. Despite, these fluid-dynamic alterations, no clinically relevant anatomical remodeling was observed in the BAV patients at 3-year follow-up. In light of previous evidence from the literature, our results suggest that WSS alterations may precede the onset of aortopathy and may contribute to its triggering, but WSS-driven anatomical remodeling, if any, is a very slow process.

Original languageEnglish
Article number441
JournalFrontiers in Physiology
Issue numberJUN
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2017


  • 4D flow
  • Aortopathy
  • Bicuspid aortic valve
  • Fluid dynamics
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Wall shear stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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