A novel technique for the assessment of mechanical properties of vascular tissue

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Accurate estimation of mechanical properties of the different atherosclerotic plaque constituents is important in assessing plaque rupture risk. The aim of this study was to develop an experimental set-up to assess material properties of vascular tissue, while applying physiological loading and being able to capture heterogeneity. To do so, a ring-inflation experimental set-up was developed in which a transverse slice of an artery was loaded in the radial direction, while the displacement was estimated from images recorded by a high-speed video camera. The performance of the set-up was evaluated using seven rubber samples and validated with uniaxial tensile tests. For four healthy porcine carotid arteries, material properties were estimated using ultrasound strain imaging in whole-vessel-inflation experiments and compared to the properties estimated with the ring-inflation experiment. A 1D axisymmetric finite element model was used to estimate the material parameters from the measured pressures and diameters, using a neo-Hookean and Holzapfel–Gasser–Ogden material model for the rubber and porcine samples, respectively. Reproducible results were obtained with the ring-inflation experiment for both rubber and porcine samples. Similar mean stiffness values were found in the ring-inflation and tensile tests for the rubber samples as 202 kPa and 206 kPa, respectively. Comparable results were obtained in vessel-inflation experiments using ultrasound and the proposed ring-inflation experiment. This inflation set-up is suitable for the assessment of material properties of healthy vascular tissue in vitro. It could also be used as part of a method for the assessment of heterogeneous material properties, such as in atherosclerotic plaques.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1585-1594
Number of pages10
JournalBiomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology
Issue number5
Early online date24 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020


  • Constitutive modelling
  • Mechanical properties
  • Ring-inflation
  • Vascular tissue

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