Annals of Biomedical Engineering

, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 530–545 | Cite as

Layer-Specific 3D Residual Deformations of Human Aortas with Non-Atherosclerotic Intimal Thickening

  • Gerhard A. HolzapfelEmail author
  • Gerhard Sommer
  • Martin Auer
  • Peter Regitnig
  • Ray W. Ogden


Data relating to residual deformations in human arteries are scarce. In this paper we investigate three-dimensional residual deformations for intact strips and for their separate layers from human aortas in their passive state. From 11 abdominal aortas with identified anamnesis, 16 pairs of rings and axial strips were harvested, and the rings cut open. After 16 h images of the resulting geometries were recorded, and the strips were separated into their three layers; after another 6 h images were again recorded. Image processing and analysis was then used to quantify residual stretches and curvatures. For each specimen histological analysis established that the intima, media and adventitia were clearly separated, and the separation was atraumatic. Axial in situ stretches were determined to be 1.196 ± 0.084. On separation, the strips from the adventitia and media shortened (between 4.03 and 8.76% on average), while the intimal strips elongated on average by 3.84% (circumferential) and 4.28% (axial) relative to the associated intact strips. After separation, the adventitia from the ring sprang open by about 180° on average, becoming flat, the intima opened only slightly, but the media sprang open by more than 180° (as did the intact strip). The adventitia and intima from the axial strips remained flat, while the media (and the intact strip) bent away from the vessel axis. This study has shown that residual deformations are three dimensional and cannot be described by a single parameter such as ‘the’ opening angle. Their quantification and modeling therefore require consideration of both stretching and bending, which are highly layer-specific and axially dependent.


Arterial layer separation Human aorta Residual deformation Residual stress Vascular heterogeneity 



The authors are indebted to the late C.A.J. Schulze-Bauer and to E. Pernkopf, who helped to initiate the early part of this work and made substantial contributions to the experiments. Financial support for this research was partly provided by the ‘Fonds zur Fortsetzung Christian’s Forschung’, the Austrian Science Foundation under START-Award Y74-TEC and by the Oesterreichische Nationalbank (OeNB) project 9190. These supports are gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Biomedical Engineering Society 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gerhard A. Holzapfel
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Gerhard Sommer
    • 1
  • Martin Auer
    • 2
  • Peter Regitnig
    • 3
  • Ray W. Ogden
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Solid Mechanics, School of Engineering SciencesRoyal Institute of Technology (KTH)StockholmSweden
  2. 2.Computational BiomechanicsGraz University of TechnologyGrazAustria
  3. 3.Institute of PathologyMedical University GrazGrazAustria
  4. 4.University of GlasgowGlasgowUK

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