A new supercomputer simulation of blood moving around the entire human body compares extremely well with real-world flow measurements, researchers say.
The software uses a 3D representation of every artery that is 1mm across or wider, scanned from a single person.
Its accuracy passed a first key test when physicists compared blood flow in the virtual aorta with that of real fluid in a 3D-printed replica.
Flow patterns seen in the physical copy were a good match for the simulation.
This was the case even when the fluid passing through the plastic aorta – and the virtual blood passing through the simulated aorta – was moving in pulses, to simulate the way blood is pumped by the heart.
“We’re getting extremely close results both in the steady flow and the pulsatile, which is very exciting,” lead researcher Amanda Randles, from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, said.
She presented the findings – including the comparison with a 3D-printed aorta – this week at the American Physical Society’s March Meeting in Baltimore. The whole-body simulation itself was first unveiled at a computer science conference in November.
It is called “Harvey” – a tribute to the 17th-century physician William Harvey who first discovered that blood is pumped in a loop around the body. At the core of Harvey’s computer code is a 3D framework, built up from full-body CT and MRI scans of a single patient, according to BBC.