Modeling and Characterization of Lymphatic Vessels Using a Lumped Parameter Approach

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2012-11-16

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Abstract

The lymphatic system is responsible for several vital roles in human body, one of which is maintaining fluid and protein balance. There is no central pump in the lymphatic system and the transport of fluid against gravity and adverse pressure gradient is maintained by the extrinsic and intrinsic pumping mechanisms. Any disruption of the lymphatic system due to trauma or injury can lead to edema. There is no cure for lymphedema partly because the knowledge of the function of the lymphatic system is lacking. Thus, a well-developed model of the lymphatic system is crucial to improve our understanding of its function.

Here we used a lumped parameter approach to model a chain of lymphangions in series. Equations of conservation of mass, conservation of momentum, and vessel wall force balance were solved for each lymphangion computationally. Due to the lack of knowledge of the parameters describing the system in the literature, more accurate measurements of these parameters should be pursued to advance the model. Because of the difficulty of the isolated vessel and in-situ experiments, we performed a parameter sensitivity analysis to determine the parameters that affect the system most strongly. Our results showed that more accurate estimations of active contractile force and physiologic features of lymphangions, such as length/diameter ratios, should be pursued in future experiments. Also further experiments are required to refine the valve behavior and valve parameters.

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