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Cardiovasc Eng Technol. 2014 Dec;5(4):359-370.

Characterization of regional deformation and material properties of the intact explanted vein by microCT and computational analysis.

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Bioengineering Department, University of Utah ; Cardiothoracic Surgery Division, Department of Surgery, University of Utah.
Bioengineering Department, University of Utah.
Nephrology Division, Department of Medicine, University of Utah.



Detailed mechanical information of the vein is important to better understand remodeling of the vessel in disease states, but has been difficult to obtain due to its thinness, unique geometry, and limitations of mechanical testing. This study presents a novel method for characterizing deformation of the intact explanted vein under physiological loads and determining its material properties by combining high-resolution imaging and computational analysis.


High-resolution CT (microCT) was used to image an iodine-stained, excised porcine internal jugular vein sample under extension to 100% and 120% of in situ length, and inflation and 2, 10, 20 mmHg of pressure, inside a microCT-compatible hydrostatic loading chamber. Regional strains were measured with the finite element (FE) image registration method known as Hyperelastic Warping. Material properties were approximated with inverse FE characterization by optimizing stiffness-related coefficients so to match simulated strains to the experimental measurements.


The observed morphology and regional strain of the vein were found to be relatively heterogeneous. The regional variability in the measured strain was primarily driven by geometry. Although iodine treatment may result in tissue stiffening, which requires additional investigation, it is effective in allowing detailed detection of vein geometry.


The feasibility and utility of using microCT and computational analysis to characterize mechanical responses and material properties of the vein were demonstrated. The presented method is a promising alternative or addition to mechanical testing for characterizing veins or other similarly delicate vessels in their native anatomical configuration under a wide range of realistic or simulated environmental and loading conditions.


imaging; mechanics; tomography; veins

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