Suitability of lattice Boltzmann inlet and outlet boundary conditions for simulating flow in image-derived vasculature

Bradley Feiger, Madhurima Vardhan, John Gounley, Matthew Mortensen, Priya Nair, Rafeed Chaudhury, David Frakes, Amanda Randles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The lattice Boltzmann method (LBM) is a popular alternative to solving the Navier-Stokes equations for modeling blood flow. When simulating flow using the LBM, several choices for inlet and outlet boundary conditions exist. While boundary conditions in the LBM have been evaluated in idealized geometries, there have been no extensive comparisons in image-derived vasculature, where the geometries are highly complex. In this study, the Zou-He (ZH) and finite difference (FD) boundary conditions were evaluated in image-derived vascular geometries by comparing their stability, accuracy, and run times. The boundary conditions were compared in four arteries: a coarctation of the aorta, dissected aorta, femoral artery, and left coronary artery. The FD boundary condition was more stable than ZH in all four geometries. In general, simulations using the ZH and FD method showed similar convergence rates within each geometry. However, the ZH method proved to be slightly more accurate compared with experimental flow using three-dimensional printed vasculature. The total run times necessary for simulations using the ZH boundary condition were significantly higher as the ZH method required a larger relaxation time, grid resolution, and number of time steps for a simulation representing the same physiological time. Finally, a new inlet velocity profile algorithm is presented for complex inlet geometries. Overall, results indicated that the FD method should generally be used for large-scale blood flow simulations in image-derived vasculature geometries. This study can serve as a guide to researchers interested in using the LBM to simulate blood flow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere3198
JournalInternational Journal for Numerical Methods in Biomedical Engineering
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2019


  • Zou-He
  • boundary conditions
  • finite difference
  • hemodynamics
  • image-derived vasculature
  • lattice Boltzmann method

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Molecular Biology
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Applied Mathematics


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