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A novel ultrasound technique to study the biomechanics of the human esophagus in vivo.

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  • 1Division of Gastroenterology, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, University of California, San Diego, California 92161, USA.


The objectives of this study were to validate a novel ultrasound technique and to use it to study the circumferential stress-strain properties of the human esophagus in vivo. A manometric catheter equipped with a high-compliance bag and a high-frequency intraluminal ultrasonography probe was used to record esophageal pressure and images. Validation studies were performed in vitro followed by in vivo studies in healthy human subjects. Esophageal distensions were performed with either an isovolumic (5-20 ml of water) or with an isobaric (10-60 mmHg) technique. Sustained distension was also performed for 3 min in each subject. The circumferential wall stress and strain were calculated. In vitro studies indicate that the ultrasound technique can make measurements of the esophageal wall with an accuracy of 0.01 mm. The in vivo studies provide the necessary data to compute the Kirchhoff's stress, Green's strain, and Young's elastic modulus during esophageal distensions. The stress-strain relationship revealed a linear shape, the slope of which corresponds to the Young's modulus. During sustained distensions, we found dynamic changes of stress and strain during the period of distension. We describe and validate a novel ultrasound technique that allows measurement of biomechanical properties of the esophagus in vivo in humans.

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