Quantifying blood flow dynamics during cardiac development: Demystifying computational methods

Katherine Courchaine, Sandra Rugonyi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Blood flow conditions (haemodynamics) are crucial for proper cardiovascular development. Indeed, blood flow induces biomechanical adaptations and mechanotransduction signalling that influence cardiovascular growth and development during embryonic stages and beyond. Altered blood flow conditions are a hallmark of congenital heart disease, and disrupted blood flow at early embryonic stages is known to lead to congenital heart malformations. In spite of this, many of the mechanisms by which blood flow mechanics affect cardiovascular development remain unknown. This is due in part to the challenges involved in quantifying blood flow dynamics and the forces exerted by blood flow on developing cardiovascular tissues. Recent technologies, however, have allowed precise measurement of blood flow parameters and cardiovascular geometry even at early embryonic stages. Combined with computational fluid dynamics techniques, it is possible to quantify haemodynamic parameters and their changes over development, which is a crucial step in the quest for understanding the role of mechanical cues on heart and vascular formation. This study summarizes some fundamental aspects of modelling blood flow dynamics, with a focus on three-dimensional modelling techniques, and discusses relevant studies that are revealing the details of blood flow and their influence on cardiovascular development. This article is part of the Theo Murphy meeting issue ‘Mechanics of development’.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20170330
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1759
StatePublished - 2018


  • Blood flow dynamics
  • Cardiovascular development
  • Computational fluid dynamics
  • Haemodynamics
  • Mechanotransduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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