A theoretical model is presented for the tubular heart of the stage-16 chick embryo (2.3 days of a 21-day incubation period). The model is a thick-walled, pseudoelastic cylindrical shell composed of three isotropic layers: the endocardium, the cardiac jelly, and the myocardium. The analysis is based on a shell theory that accounts for large deformation, material nonlinearity, residual strain, and muscle activation, with material properties inferred from available experimental data. We also measured epicardial strains from recorded motions of microspheres on the primitive right ventricles of stage-16 white Leghorn chick embryos. Relative to end diastole, peak axial and circumferential Lagrange strains occurred near end systole and had similar values. The magnitudes of these strains varied along the longitudinal axis of the heart (-0.16 ± 0.08), being larger near the ends of the primitive right ventricle and smaller near midventricle. The in-plane shear strain was less than 0.05. Comparison of theoretical and experimental strains during the cardiac cycle shows generally good agreement. In addition, the model gives strong stress concentrations in the myocardial layer at end systole.

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