Decreased hydrodynamic resistance in the two-phase flow of blood through small vertical tubes at low flow rates.
The aggregation of red blood cells in blood flowing through small tubes at very low shear rates leads to the two-phase flow of an inner core of rouleaux surrounded by a cell-depleted peripheral layer. The formation of this layer is known to be accompanied by a decrease in hydrodynamic resistance to flow. To quantitate this effect, we measured the pressure gradient, flow rate, and the radius of the red blood cell core in suspensions flowing through tubes of 172-microns radius at mean linear flow rates (U) from 50 to 0.15 tube diameters.sec-1. Washed red blood cells were suspended in 1.5% buffered dextran 110 at hematocrits of 34-52%. Using syringe pumps, blood flowed from a stirred reservoir through a vertical 12-cm length of tube in either the upward or downward direction. The pressure drop was measured with transducers. Mean values in distributions in the core radius were obtained by analyzing cine films of flow taken through a microscope with flow in the upward direction, measuring the core radius at five equally spaced axial positions of the tube in each of 100 frames. At 34% and 46% hematocrit, the hydrodynamic resistance increased as U decreased from 50 sec-1, reaching a maximum at U-2 sec-1. It then decreased to a minimum at U less than 0.5 sec-1 as the red blood cell core formed in the tube, and the mean core radius/tube radius ratio decreased from 0.98 to 0.74 with marked axial fluctuations at the lower U. At higher hematocrits, both the increase and decrease in hydrodynamic resistance were greater. In a red blood cell albumin-saline suspension, where there is no aggregation of red blood cells and no two-phase flow, hydrodynamic resistance increases linearly with decreasing U. The experimental results were compared with the predictions of a two-phase steady-flow model, assuming axisymmetric flow of a core surrounded by cell-free suspending medium. Two models were considered, one in which the core is solid, the other in which the rheological properties of the suspension in the core are given by the Quemada equation. The effects of sedimentation of the core resulting in a zero net flow pressure gradient were taken into account. Provided that an experimentally extrapolated value for the zero pressure gradient was used, the Quemada-fluid model gave good agreement with the experimentally observed core radius as a function of U and hematocrit.
- Copyright © 1991 by American Heart Association