Soft Tissue Mechanics

Key Paper Overviews:

On the compressibility of arterial tissue

Arterial tissue is commonly assumed to be incompressible. While this assumption is convenient for both experimentalists and theorists, the compressibility of arterial tissue has not been rigorously investigated. In the current study we present an experimental-computational methodology to determine the compressibility of aortic tissue and we demonstrate that specimens excised from an ovine descending aorta are significantly compressible. Specimens are stretched in the radial direction in order to fully characterise the mechanical behaviour of the tissue ground matrix. Additionally biaxial testing is performed to fully characterise the anisotropic contribution of reinforcing fibres. Due to the complexity of the experimental tests, which entail non-uniform finite deformation of a non-linear anisotropic material, it is necessary to implement an inverse finite element analysis scheme to characterise the mechanical behaviour of the arterial tissue. Results reveal that ovine aortic tissue is highly compressible; an effective Poisson’s ratio of 0.44 is determined for the ground matrix component of the tissue. It is also demonstrated that correct characterisation of material compressibility has important implications for the calibration of anisotropic fibre properties using biaxial tests. Finally it is demonstrated that correct treatment of material compressibility has significant implications for the accurate prediction of the stress state in an artery under in vivo type loading. Link to paper

A robust anisotropic hyperelastic formulation for the modelling of soft tissue

david nolanThe Holzapfel–Gasser–Ogden (HGO) model for anisotropic hyperelastic behaviour of collagen fibre reinforced materials was initially developed to describe the elastic properties of arterial tissue, but is now used extensively for modelling a variety of soft biological tissues. A compressible form (HGO-C model) is widely used in finite element simulations where by the isotropic part of Ψ is decoupled into volumetric and isochoric parts and the anisotropic part of Ψ is expressed in terms of isochoric invariants. Here, by using three simple deformations (pure dilatation, pure shear and uniaxial stretch), we demonstrate that the compressible HGO-C formulation does not correctly model compressible anisotropic material behaviour, because  the anisotropic component of the model is insensitive to volumetric deformation due to the use of isochoric anisotropic invariants. In order to correctly model compressible anisotropic behaviour we present a modified anisotropic (MA) model, where by the full anisotropic invariants are used, so that a volumetric anisotropic contribution is represented. The MA model correctly predicts an anisotropic response to hydrostatic tensile loading, whereby a sphere deforms into an ellipsoid. It also computes the correct anisotropic stress state for pure shear and uniaxial deformations.    Link to paper