The existence of residual stresses in unloaded arteries has long been known. However, their effect is often neglected in experimental studies. Using a recently developed modelling framework, we aimed to investigate the role of residual stresses in the mechanical behaviour of the tri-layered wall of the pig thoracic aorta. The mechanical behaviour of the intact wall and isolated layers of n = 3 pig thoracic aortas was investigated via uniaxial tensile testing. After modelling the layer-specific mechanical data using a hyperelastic strain energy function, the layer-specific deformations in the unloaded vessel were estimated so that the mechanical response of the computationally assembled tri-layered flat wall would match that measured experimentally. Physiological tension-inflation of the cylindrical trilayered vessel was then simulated, analysing changes in the distribution of stresses in the three layers when neglecting residual stresses. In the tri-layered model with residual stresses, layers exhibited comparable stresses throughout the physiological range of pressure. At 100 mmHg, intimal, medial, and adventitial circumferential load bearings were 16 +/- 3%, 59 +/- 4%, and 25 +/- 2%, respectively. Adventitial stiffening at high pressures produced a shift in load bearing from the media to the adventitia. When neglecting residual stresses, in vivo stresses were highest at the intima and lowest at the adventitia. Consequently, the intimal and adventitial load bearings, 23 +/- 2% and 18 +/- 3% at 100 mmHg, were comparable at all pressures. Residual stresses play a crucial role in arterial mechanics guaranteeing a uniform distribution of stresses through the wall thickness. Neglecting these leads to incorrect interpretation of the layers' role in arterial mechanics.
- Residual stresses
- Tri-layered arterial wall modelling
- LAMELLAR UNIT