Brain Biomechanics using the Finite Element Immersed Boundary Method: Application to Hydrocephalus

Hydrocephalus is a pathological condition of the brain which occurs when there is an enlargement of the ventricular cavities due to an excessive accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Although known instances of hydrocephalus date back to the time of Hippocrates, the process by which hydrocephalus develops is still not well understood.

Recently, the pulsations of the cerebrospinal fluid have beensuggested as a possible mechanism causing the large ventricular expansion seen in hydrocephalus.

There has been considerable research on hydrocephalus where the brain tissue has been modeled as an elastic or as a poroelastic material. Very little research has been done where hydrocephalus is framed as a fluid-structure interaction problem.

Goals of the project:

  • Analyze the effect of pulsatile pressure on a model immersed solid representative of the brain parenchyma;
  • generalize the Finite Element Immersed Boundary Method to allow for general elastic models, independent from the underlying fluid;
  • investigate alternative coupling between the CSF and the brain tissue, based on comparisons with experimental data;
  • provide a complete simulation of the coupled system by using medical images of hydrocephalic brain to generate the solid mesh.

Project collaborations:

Head of project

Dr. Luca Heltai, SISSA MathLab, luca.heltai (at)