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Crack Propagation and Its Shear Mechanisms in the Bovine Descending Aorta


Aortic dissection and rupture may involve circumferential shear stress in the circumferential–longitudinal plane. Inflation of bovine descending aortic ring specimens provides evidence of such shear from the non-uniform circumferential distortion of radial lines drawn on the circumferential–radial ring face. Delamination without tensile peeling induces cracks that propagate nearly circumferentially in the circumferential–longitudinal plane from the root of a radial cut representing rupture initiation in a ring. Translational shear deformation tests of small rectangular aortic wall blocks in the circumferential and longitudinal direction measure the consequences of such shear on substructures in the aortic wall, in particular the collagen fibers. The two directions of shear deformation produce no statistical difference in the shear stress response of the wall. Possibly, the interfiber connections between collagen fibers are put into tension by either translational shear deformation so that the stress measured reflects the tensile response of these connections. Wall rupture may involve failure of these connections; such failure is supported by the voids parallel to the collagen fibers observed in a histological study after translational shear. Further, interstitial fluid is redistributed by shear as evidenced by the measured weight loss of a set of specimens during the translational shear of blocks. Because the mass changes, mathematical modeling of aortic tissue in vitro as incompressible is an approximation. These observations suggest that no simple modification of classical rupture theories, whether based on energy functions, stress or strain, suffices to predict the rupture of hydrated soft biological tissue that has complex substructures.

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The experiments were performed in the University of Maryland, Orthopaedic Mechanobiology Laboratory, Dr. Adam H. Hsieh, Director. Portions of this work were presented from the podium at the Seventh World Congress of Biomechanics, Boston, MA, 2014.

Conflicts of interest

Henry W. Haslach, Jr., Lauren N. Leahy, Parinaz Fathi, Joshua M. Barrett, Amanda E. Heyes, Thomas A. Dumsha, and Eileen L. McMahon declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and animal rights and informed consent

No human studies were carried out by the authors for this article. No animal studies requiring institutional committee approval were carried out by the authors for this article because the bovine aortas were obtained from a slaughterhouse.

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Correspondence to Henry W. Haslach Jr..

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Associate Editor Ajit P. Yoganathan oversaw the review of this article.

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Haslach, H.W., Leahy, L.N., Fathi, P. et al. Crack Propagation and Its Shear Mechanisms in the Bovine Descending Aorta. Cardiovasc Eng Tech 6, 501–518 (2015).

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  • Bovine descending aorta
  • Crack propagation
  • Circumferential deformation
  • Shear deformation
  • Interstitial fluid
  • Circumferential shear stress
  • Aortic rupture