Finite-Element Simulation of Cooling of Realistic 3-D Human Head and Neck

Brian H. Dennis, Robert C. Eberhart, George S. Dulikravich, Steve W. Radons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Rapid cooling of the brain in the first minutes following the onset of cerebral ischemia is a potentially attractive preservation method. This computer modeling study was undertaken to examine brain-cooling profiles in response to various external cooling methods and protocols, in order to guide the development of cooling devices suitable for deployment on emergency medical vehicles. The criterion of successful cooling is taken to be the attainment of a 33°C average brain temperature within 30 min of treatment. The transient cooling of an anatomically correct realistic 3-D head and neck with realistically varying local tissue properties was numerically simulated using the finite-element method (FEM). The simulations performed in this study consider ice packs applied to head and neck as well as using a head-cooling helmet. However, it was found that neither of these cooling approaches satisfies the 33°C temperature within 30 min. This central conclusion of insubstantial cooling is supported by the modest enhancements reported in experimental investigations of externally applied cooling. The key problem is overcoming the protective effect of warm blood perfusion, which reaches the brain via the uncooled carotid arterial supply and effectively blocks the external cooling wave from advancing to the core of the brain. The results show that substantial cooling could be achieved in conjunction with neck cooling if the blood speed in the carotid artery is reduced from normal by a factor of 10. The results suggest that additional cooling means should be explored, such as cooling of other pertinent parts of the human anatomy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)832-840
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biomechanical Engineering
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Physiology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Finite-Element Simulation of Cooling of Realistic 3-D Human Head and Neck'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this