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Understanding the Passive Mechanical Behavior of the Human Abdominal Wall


The aim of this work is to present a methodology to model the passive mechanical behavior of the human abdomen during physiological movements. From a mechanical point of view, it is possible to predict where hernia formation is likely to occur since the areas that support higher stresses can be identified as the most vulnerable ones. For this purpose, a realistic geometry of the human abdomen is obtained from magnetic resonance imaging. The model defines different anatomical structures of the abdomen, including muscles and aponeuroses, and anisotropic mechanical properties are assigned. The finite element model obtained from the geometric human model, which includes initial strains, is used to simulate the anisotropic passive behavior of the healthy human abdomen under intra-abdominal pressure. This study demonstrates that the stiffest structures, namely aponeuroses and particularly the linea alba, are the structures that perform the most work in the abdomen. Thus, the linea alba is the most important unit contributing to the mechanical stability of the abdominal wall.

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Rectus abdominis


Anterior lamina of the rectus sheath


Posterior lamina of the rectus sheath


Linea alba


Fascia transversalis


Rectus tendon


Rectus abdominis muscle


Oblique muscle tendon


Oblique muscles


External oblique


Internal oblique


Transversus abdominis


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This study was supported by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness through research project DPI2011-27939-C02-01/C02-02 and the Instituto de Salud Carlos III (ISCIII) through the CIBER-BBN initiative project ABDOMESH. B. Hernández-Gascón was funded by a grant (BES-2009-021515) from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Technology.

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Correspondence to E. Peña.

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Associate Editor Peter E. McHugh oversaw the review of this article.

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Hernández-Gascón, B., Mena, A., Peña, E. et al. Understanding the Passive Mechanical Behavior of the Human Abdominal Wall. Ann Biomed Eng 41, 433–444 (2013).

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  • Hyperelasticity
  • Collagen fibers
  • Initial strains
  • Intra-abdominal pressure