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Med Image Anal. 2006 Apr;10(2):125-36. Epub 2005 Sep 6.

Mechanical properties of the human uterine cervix: an in vivo study.

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  • 1Department of Mechanical Engineering, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland.


Experimental results of in vivo measurements to characterize the mechanical behaviour of human uterine cervices are documented. Aspiration experiments were performed on eight uteri in vivo, before vaginal/abdominal hysterectomy, and four uteri were also tested ex vivo, approximately 1.5h after extraction. The reproducibility of the mechanical data from the in vivo aspiration experiments has been analysed. For an introduced "stiffness parameter" the organ specific SD is 22%, so that the proposed experimental procedure allows detections of 30% changes with respect to a reference value of the stiffness parameter. A comparison of in vivo and ex vivo data from the same organ has shown that: (i) the ex vivo mechanical response of the uterine cervix tissue does not differ considerably from that observed in vivo; (ii) some differences can be identified in tissue pre-conditioning with ex vivo showing a stronger history dependence with respect to in vivo; (iii) the differences in the time dependence of the mechanical response are not significant and might be masked by the variability of the measured data. This study represents a first step of a clinical application aiming at analysing the mechanical response of normal cervical tissue at different gestational ages, and identifying the mechanical properties that characterize pathologic conditions such as cervical insufficiency leading to preterm delivery.

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