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Ann Biomed Eng. 2004 Feb;32(2):223-32.

The effect of strain rate on the viscoelastic response of aortic valve tissue: a direct-fit approach.

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  • 1Department of Biomedical Engineering, Lerner Research Institute, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, OH 44195, USA.


Knowledge of strain-rate sensitivity of soft tissue viscoelastic and nonlinear elastic properties is important for accurate predictions of biomechanical behavior and for quantitative assessment of the effects of disease or surgical/pharmaceutical intervention. Soft tissues are known to exhibit mild rate sensitivity, but experimental artifacts related to testing system control can confound estimation of these effects. "Perfect" ramp-and-hold stress-relaxation tests become difficult at high strain rates because of problems related to undershoot/overshoot error and vibrations. These errors can introduce unwanted bias into parameter estimation methods that rely on idealizations of the applied ramp-and-hold displacement. To address these problems, we describe a new method for estimating quasilinear viscoelastic (QLV) parameters that directly fits the QLV constitutive model to the actual point-wise stress-time history of the test, using an adaptive grid refinement (AGR) global optimization algorithm. This new method significantly improves the accuracy and predictivity of QLV parameter estimates for heart valve tissues, compared to traditional methods that use idealized displacement data. We estimated QLV parameters for aortic valve tissue over a range of physiologic displacement rates, finding that the viscoelastic content parameter (C) increased slightly with increasing strain rate, but the fast (tau1) and slow (tau2) time constants were strain rate insensitive.

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