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Novel biaxial tensile test for studying aortic failure phenomena at a microscopic level

DOI: 10.1186/1475-925x-12-3

Keywords: Aortic tissue , Biaxial tensile device , Microstructure , Tearing

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Abstract:

Background An aortic aneurysm is a local dilation of the aorta, which tends to expand and often results in a fatal rupture. Although larger aneurysms have a greater risk of rupture, some small aneurysms also rupture. Since the mechanism of aortic rupture is not well understood, clarification of the microstructure influencing the failure to rupture is important. Since aortic tissues are stretched biaxially in vivo, we developed a technique to microscopically observe the failure of an aortic rupture during biaxial stretch. Methods A thinly sliced porcine thoracic aortic specimen was adhered to a circular frame and pushed onto a cylinder with a smaller diameter to stretch the specimen biaxially. To induce failure to rupture at the center, the specimen was thinned at the center of the hole as follows: the specimen was frozen while being compressed with metal plates having holes, which were 3 mm in diameter at their centers; the specimen was then sliced at 50-μm intervals and thawed. Results The ratio of the thickness at the center to the peripheral area was 99.5% for uncompressed specimens. The ratio decreased with an increase in the compression ratio εc and was 47.3% for specimens with εc = 40%. All specimens could be stretched until failure to rupture. The probability for crack initiation within the cylinder was <30% and 100% for specimens with εc <10% and εc >30%, respectively. Among specimens ruptured within the cylinder, 93% of those obtained from the mid-media showed crack initiation at the thin center area. Conclusions Aortic tissues were successfully stretched biaxially until failure, and their crack initiation points were successfully observed under a microscope. This could be a very useful and powerful method for clarifying the mechanism of aortic rupture. We are planning to use this technique for a detailed investigation of events occurring at the point of failure when the crack initiates in the aortic aneurysm wall.

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