Published online by Cambridge University Press: 16 October 2008
This theoretical investigation of steady fluid flow through a rigid three-dimensional branching geometry is motivated by applications to haemodynamics in the brain especially, while the flow through a tube with a blockage or through a collapsed tube provides another motivation with a biomedical background. Three-dimensional motion without symmetry is addressed through one mother vessel to two or several daughters. A comparatively long axial length scale of the geometry leads to a longitudinal vortex system providing a slender-flow model for the complete mother-and-daughters flow response. Computational studies and subsequent analysis, along with comparisons, are presented. The relative flow rate varies in terms of an effective Reynolds number dependence, allowing a wide range of flow rates to be examined theoretically; also any rigid cross-sectional shape and ratio of cross-sectional area expansion or contraction from the mother vessel to the daughters can be accommodated in principle in both the computations and the analysis. Swirl production with substantial crossflows is found. The analysis shows that close to any carina (the ridge separating daughter vessels) or carinas at a branch junction either forward or reversed motion can be observed locally at the saddle point even though the bulk of the motion is driven forward into the daughters. The local forward or reversed motion is controlled, however, by global properties of the geometry and incident conditions, a feature which applies to any of the flow rates examined.