Wave intensity analysis and its application to the coronary circulation


  • C J Broyd 1. Imperial College London, London, UK 2. Hospital Clinico San Carlos, Madrid, Spain
  • J E Davies Imperial College London, London, UK
  • J E Escaned Hospital Clinico San Carlos, Madrid, Spain
  • A Hughes University College London
  • K Parker Imperial College London, London




Wave intensity analysis (WIA) is a technique developed from the field of gas dynamics that is now being applied to assess cardiovascular physiology. It allows quantification of the forces acting to alter flow and pressure within a fluid system, and as such it is highly insightful in ascribing cause to dynamic blood pressure or velocity changes.

When co-incident waves arrive at the same spatial location they exert either counteracting or summative effects on flow and pressure. WIA however allows waves of different origins to be measured uninfluenced by other simultaneously arriving waves. It therefore has found particular applicability within the coronary circulation where both proximal (aortic) and distal (myocardial) ends of the coronary artery can markedly influence blood flow. Using these concepts, a repeating pattern of 6 waves has been consistently identified within the coronary arteries, 3 originating proximally and 3 distally. Each has been associated with a particular part of the cardiac cycle.

The most clinically relevant wave to date is the backward decompression wave, which causes the marked increase in coronary flow velocity observed at the start of the diastole. It has been proposed that this wave is generated by the elastic re-expansion of the intra-myocardial blood vessels that are compressed during systolic contraction. Particularly by quantifying this wave, WIA has been used to provide mechanistic and prognostic insight into a number of conditions including aortic stenosis, left ventricular hypertrophy, coronary artery disease and heart failure. It has proven itself to be highly sensitive and as such a number of novel research directions are encouraged where further insights would be beneficial. 






Review articles