Abstract

Biomechanical characterization of abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) has become commonplace in rupture risk assessment studies. However, its translation to the clinic has been greatly limited due to the complexity associated with its tools and their implementation. The unattainability of patient-specific tissue properties leads to the use of generalized population-averaged material models in finite element analyses, which adds a degree of uncertainty to the wall mechanics quantification. In addition, computational fluid dynamics modeling of AAA typically lacks the patient-specific inflow and outflow boundary conditions that should be obtained by non-standard of care clinical imaging. An alternative approach for analyzing AAA flow and sac volume changes is to conduct in vitro experiments in a controlled laboratory environment. We designed, built, and characterized quantitatively a benchtop flow-loop using a deformable AAA silicone phantom representative of a patient-specific geometry. The impedance modules, which are essential components of the flow-loop, were fine-tuned to ensure typical intra-sac pressure conditions. The phantom was imaged with a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner to acquire time-resolved images of the moving wall and the velocity field inside the sac. Temporal AAA sac volume changes lead to a corresponding variation in compliance throughout the cardiac cycle. The primary outcome of this work was the design optimization of the impedance elements, the quantitative characterization of the resistive and capacitive attributes of a compliant AAA phantom, and the exemplary use of MRI for flow visualization and quantification of the deformed AAA geometry.

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