Biomechanics of aortic wall failure with a focus on dissection and aneurysm: a review

Selda Sherifova, Gerhard Holzapfel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Aortic dissections and aortic aneurysms are fatal events characterized by structural changes to the aortic wall. The maximum diameter criterion, typically used for aneurysm rupture risk estimations, has been challenged by more sophisticated biomechanically motivated models in the past. Although these models are very helpful for the clinicians in decision-making, they do not attempt to capture material failure. Following a short overview of the microstructure of the aorta, we analyze the failure mechanisms involved in the dissection and rupture by considering also traumatic rupture. We continue with a literature review of experimental studies relevant to quantify tissue strength. More specifically, we summarize more extensively uniaxial tensile, bulge inflation and peeling tests, and we also specify trouser, direct tension and in-plane shear tests. Finally we analyze biomechanically motivated models to predict rupture risk. Based on the findings of the reviewed studies and the rather large variations in tissue strength, we propose that an appropriate material failure criterion for aortic tissues should also reflect the microstructure in order to be effective.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
JournalActa Biomaterialia
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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