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Ann Biomed Eng. 1997 Jul-Aug;25(4):678-89.

A small angle light scattering device for planar connective tissue microstructural analysis.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL 33124-0621, USA.


The planar fibrous connective tissues of the body are composed of a dense extracellular network of collagen and elastin fibers embedded in a ground matrix, and thus can be thought of as biocomposites. Thus, the quantification of fiber architecture is an important step in developing an understanding of the mechanics of planar tissues in health and disease. We have used small angle light scattering (SALS) to map the gross fiber orientation of several soft membrane connective tissues. However, the device and analysis methods used in these studies required extensive manual intervention and were unsuitable for large-scale fiber architectural mapping studies. We have developed an improved SALS device that allows for rapid data acquisition, automated high spatial resolution specimen positioning, and new analysis methods suitable for large-scale mapping studies. Extensive validation experiments revealed that the SALS device can accurately measure fiber orientation for up to a tissue thickness of at least 500 microns to an angular resolution of approximately 1 degree and a spatial resolution of +/-254 microns. To demonstrate the new device's capabilities, structural measurements from porcine aortic valve leaflets are presented. Results indicate that the new SALS device provides an accurate method for rapid quantification of the gross fiber structure of planar connective tissues.

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