A Model for the Estimation of Residual Stresses in Soft Tissues



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This dissertation focuses on a novel approach for characterizing the mechanical behavior of an elastic body. In particular, we develop a mathematical tool for the estimation of residual stress field in an elastic body that has mechanical properties similar to that of the arterial wall, by making use of intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) imaging techniques. This study is a preliminary step towards understanding the progression of a cardiovascular disease called atherosclerosis using ultrasound technology. It is known that residual stresses play a significant role in determining the overall stress distribution in soft tissues. The main part of this work deals with developing a nonlinear inverse spectral technique that allows one to accurately compute the residual stresses in soft tissues. Unlike most conventional experimental, both in vivo and in vitro, and theoretical techniques to characterize residual stresses in soft tissues, the proposed method makes fundamental use of the finite strain non- linear response of the material to a quasi-static harmonic loading. The arterial wall is modeled as a nonlinear, isotropic, slightly compressible elastic body. A boundary value problem is formulated for the residually stressed arterial wall, the boundary of which is subjected to a constant blood pressure, and then an idealized model for the IVUS interrogation is constructed by superimposing small amplitude time harmonic infinitesimal vibrations on large deformations via an asymptotic construction of its solution. We then use a semi-inverse approach to study the model for a specific class of deformations. The analysis leads us to a system of second order differential equations with homogeneous boundary conditions of Sturm-Liouville type. By making use of the classical theory of inverse Sturm-Liouville problems, and root finding and optimization techniques, we then develop several inverse spectral algorithms to approximate the residual stress distribution in the arterial wall, given the first few eigenfrequencies of several induced blood pressures.