A two-layer model is used to simulate the mechanical behavior of an airway or other biological vessel under external compressive stress or smooth muscle constriction sufficient to cause longitudinal mucosal buckling. Analytic and finite element numerical methods are used to examine the onset of buckling. Post-buckling solutions are obtained by finite element analysis, then verified with large-scale physical model experiments. The two-layer model provides insight into how the stiffness of a vessel wall changes due to changes in the geometry and intrinsic material stiffnesses of the wall components. Specifically, it predicts that the number of mucosal folds in the buckled state is diminished most by increased thickness of the inner collagen-rich layer, and relatively little by increased thickness of the outer submucosal layer. An increase in the ratio of the inner to outer material stiffnesses causes an intermediate reduction in the number of folds. Results are cast in a simple form that can easily be used to predict buckling in a variety of vessels. The model quantitatively confirms that an increase in the thickness of the inner layer leads to a reduction in the number of mucosal folds, and further, that this can lead to increased vessel collapse at high levels of smooth muscle constriction.

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