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Biomed Eng Online. 2004 Nov 1;3(1):40.

A two-layered mechanical model of the rat esophagus. Experiment and theory.

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  • 1Institute of Experimental Clinical Research, Skejby Hospital, Aarhus, Denmark. <>



The function of esophagus is to move food by peristaltic motion which is the result of the interaction of the tissue forces in the esophageal wall and the hydrodynamic forces in the food bolus. The structure of the esophagus is layered. In this paper, the esophagus is treated as a two-layered structure consisting of an inner collagen-rich submucosa layer and an outer muscle layer. We developed a model and experimental setup for determination of elastic moduli in the two layers in circumferential direction and related the measured elastic modulus of the intact esophagus to the elastic modulus computed from the elastic moduli of the two layers.


Inflation experiments were done at in vivo length and pressure-diameters relations were recorded for the rat esophagus. Furthermore, the zero-stress state was taken into consideration.


The radius and the strain increased as function of pressure in the intact as well as in the individual layers of the esophagus. At pressures higher than 1.5 cmH2O the muscle layer had a larger radius and strain than the mucosa-submucosa layer. The strain for the intact esophagus and for the muscle layer was negative at low pressures indicating the presence of residual strains in the tissue. The stress-strain curve for the submucosa-mucosa layer was shifted to the left of the curves for the muscle layer and for the intact esophagus at strains higher than 0.3. The tangent modulus was highest in the submucosa-mucosa layer, indicating that the submucosa-mucosa has the highest stiffness. A good agreement was found between the measured elastic modulus of the intact esophagus and the elastic modulus computed from the elastic moduli of the two separated layers.

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