Meso-Scale Particle Image Velocimetry Studies of Neurovascular Flows In Vitro.
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Particle image velocimetry (PIV) is used in a wide variety of fields, due to the opportunity it provides for precisely visualizing and quantifying flows across a large spatiotemporal range. However, its implementation typically requires the use of expensive and specialized instrumentation, which limits its broader utility. Moreover, within the field of bioengineering, in vitro flow visualization studies are also often further limited by the high cost of commercially sourced tissue phantoms that recapitulate desired anatomical structures, particularly for those that span the mesoscale regime (i.e., submillimeter to millimeter length scales). Herein, we present a simplified experimental protocol developed to address these limitations, the key elements of which include 1) a relatively low-cost method for fabricating mesoscale tissue phantoms using 3-D printing and silicone casting, and 2) an open-source image analysis and processing framework that reduces the demand upon the instrumentation for measuring mesoscale flows (i.e., velocities up to tens of millimeters/second). Collectively, this lowers the barrier to entry for nonexperts, by leveraging resources already at the disposal of many bioengineering researchers. We demonstratethe applicability of this protocol within the context of neurovascular flow characterization; however, it is expected to be relevant to a broader range of mesoscale applications in bioengineering and beyond.