Human aortas are subjected to large mechanical stresses due to blood flow pressurization and through contact with the surrounding tissue. It is essential that the aorta does not lose stability by buckling for its proper functioning to ensure proper blood flow. A refined reduced-order bifurcation analysis model is employed to examine the stability of an aortic segment subjected to internal blood flow. The structural model is based on a nonlinear cylindrical orthotropic laminated composite shell theory that assumes three aortic wall layers representing the tunica intima, media and adventitia. The fluid model contains the unsteady effects obtained from linear potential flow theory and the steady viscous effects obtained from the time-averaged Navier-Stokes equations. Residual stresses due to pressurization are evaluated and included in the model. The aortic segment loses stability by divergence with deformation of the cross-section at a critical flow velocity for a given static pressure, exhibiting a strong subcritical behaviour with partial or total collapse of the inner wall. Subsequent analyses including the effect of geometric wall imperfections indicate that imperfections in the axial direction have a more profound effect on the stability of the aorta decreasing the critical flow velocity for buckling.

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