A model for the anisotropic response of fibrous soft tissues using six discrete fibre bundles

Cormac Flynn, M. B. Rubin, Poul Nielsen

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25 Scopus citations


The development of constitutive models of fibrous soft-tissues is a challenging problem. Many consider the tissue to be a collection of fibres with a continuous distribution function representing their orientations. A discrete fibre model is presented consisting of six weighted fibre-bundles. Each bundle is oriented such that it passes through opposing vertices of a regular icosahedron. A novel aspect is the use of simple analytical distribution functions to simulate undulated collagen fibres. This approach yields closed-form analytical expressions for the strain energy of the collagen fibre-bundle that avoids the sometimes costly numerical integration of some statistical distribution functions. The elastin fibres are characterized by a modified neo-Hookean type strain energy function which does not allow for fibre compression. The model accurately simulates biaxial stretching of rabbit-skin (error-of-fit 8.7), uniaxial stretching of pig-skin (error-of-fit 7.6), equibiaxial loading of aortic valve cusp (error-of-fit 0.8), and simple shear of rat septal myocardium (error-of-fit 8.9). It compares favourably with previous soft-tissue models and alternative methods of representing undulated collagen fibres. Predicted collagen fibre stiffnesses range from 8.0thinspaceMPa to 930MPa. Elastin fibre stiffnesses range from 2.0 kPa to 154.4 kPa. © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1793-1811
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal for Numerical Methods in Biomedical Engineering
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 30 2011
Externally publishedYes


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