An orthotropic viscoelastic model for the passive myocardium: continuum basis and numerical treatment

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This study deals with the viscoelastic constitutive modeling and the respective computational analysis of the human passive myocardium. We start by recapitulating the locally orthotropic inner structure of the human myocardial tissue and model the mechanical response through invariants and structure tensors associated with three orthonormal basis vectors. In accordance with recent experimental findings the ventricular myocardial tissue is assumed to be incompressible, thick-walled, orthotropic and viscoelastic. In particular, one spring element coupled with Maxwell elements in parallel endows the model with viscoelastic features such that four dashpots describe the viscous response due to matrix, fiber, sheet and fiber-sheet fragments. In order to alleviate the numerical obstacles, the strictly incompressible model is altered by decomposing the free-energy function into volumetric-isochoric elastic and isochoric-viscoelastic parts along with the multiplicative split of the deformation gradient which enables the three-field mixed finite element method. The crucial aspect of the viscoelastic formulation is linked to the rate equations of the viscous overstresses resulting from a 3-D analogy of a generalized 1-D Maxwell model. We provide algorithmic updates for second Piola-Kirchhoff stress and elasticity tensors. In the sequel, we address some numerical aspects of the constitutive model by applying it to elastic, cyclic and relaxation test data obtained from biaxial extension and triaxial shear tests whereby we assess the fitting capacity of the model. With the tissue parameters identified, we conduct (elastic and viscoelastic) finite element simulations for an ellipsoidal geometry retrieved from a human specimen.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1647-64
Number of pages18
JournalComputer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016


  • Cardiac mechanics
  • myocardium
  • viscoelasticity
  • Finite element method
  • Orthotropy
  • collagen fiber dispersion


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