An important indicator of health status is hematocrit (HCT), the fractional volume of red blood cells. As such, a noninvasive,
real-time means of its measurement is highly desirable in a space flight situation. We propose to exploit
ultrasound technology to provide such a capability. We introduce a specific measurement concept including the hardware
and requisite processing algorithms, and discuss progress towards realization of such a measurement capability.
One of NASA’s objectives is to be able to perform a complete pre-flight evaluation of possible cardiovascular changes in astronauts scheduled for prolonged space missions. Blood flow is an important component of cardiovascular function. Lately, attention has focused on using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to analyze flow with realistic vessel geometries. MRI can provide detailed geometrical information and is the only clinical technique to measure all three spatial velocity components. The objective of this study was to investigate the reliability of MRI-based model reconstruction for CFD simulations. An aortic arch model and a carotid bifurcation model were scanned in a 1.5T MRI scanner. Axial MRI acquisitions provided images for geometry reconstruction using different resolution settings. The vessel walls were identified and the geometry was reconstructed using existing software. The geometry was then imported into a commercial CFD package for meshing and numerical solution. MRI velocity acquisitions provided true inlet boundary conditions for steady flow, as well as three-directional velocity data at several locations. In addition, an idealized version of each geometry was created from the model drawings. Contour and vector plots of the velocity showed identical features between the MRI velocity data, the MRI-based CFD data, and the idealized-geometry CFD data, with mean differences <10%. CFD results from different MRI resolution settings did not show significant differences (<5%). This study showed quantitatively that reliable CFD simulations can be performed in models reconstructed from MRI acquisitions and gives evidence that a future, subject-specific, computational evaluation of the cardiovascular system is possible.