Should We Ignore What We Cannot Measure? How Non-Uniform Stretch, Non-Uniform Wall Thickness and Minor Side Branches Affect Computational Aortic Biomechanics in Mice
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In order to advance the state-of-the-art in computational aortic biomechanics, we investigated the influence of (i) a non-uniform wall thickness, (ii) minor aortic side branches and (iii) a non-uniform axial stretch distribution on the location of predicted hotspots of principal strain in a mouse model for dissecting aneurysms. After 3 days of angiotensin II infusion, a murine abdominal aorta was scanned in vivo with contrast-enhanced micro-CT. The animal was subsequently sacrificed and its aorta was scanned ex vivo with phase-contrast X-ray tomographic microscopy (PCXTM). An automatic morphing framework was developed to map the non-pressurized, non-stretched PCXTM geometry onto the pressurized, stretched micro-CT geometry. The output of the morphing model was a structural FEM simulation where the output strain distribution represents an estimation of the wall deformation, not only due to the pressurization, but also due to the local axial stretch field. The morphing model also included minor branches and a mouse-specific wall thickness. A sensitivity study was then performed to assess the influence of each of these novel features on the outcome of the simulations. The results were supported by comparing the computed hotspots of principal strain to hotspots of early vascular damage as detected on PCXTM. Non-uniform axial stretch, non-uniform wall thickness and minor subcostal arteries significantly alter the locations of calculated hotspots of maximal principal strain. Even if experimental data on these features are often not available in clinical practice, one should be aware of the important implications that simplifications in the model might have on the final simulated result.
KeywordsMouse models Biomechanics Synchrotron imaging
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