Mechanical & Materials Engineering, Department of


Date of this Version



Acta Biomater. 2014 March ; 10(3): 1301–1313. doi:10.1016/j.actbio.2013.12.027.


Copyright 2014 the authors. Used by permission.


Surgical and interventional therapies for atherosclerotic lesions of the infrainguinal arteries are notorious for high rates of failure. Frequently, this leads to expensive reinterventions, return of disabling symptoms, or limb loss. Interaction between the artery and repair material likely plays an important role in reconstruction failure, but data describing the mechanical properties and functional characteristics of human femoropopliteal and tibial arteries are currently not available. Diseased superficial femoral (SFA, n=10), popliteal (PA, n=8), and tibial arteries (TA, n=3) from 10 patients with critical limb ischemia were tested to determine passive mechanical properties using planar biaxial extension. All specimens exhibited large non-linear deformations and anisotropy. Under equibiaxial loading, all arteries were stiffer in the circumferential direction than in the longitudinal direction. Anisotropy and longitudinal compliance decreased distally, but circumferential compliance increased, possibly to maintain a homeostatic multiaxial stress state. Constitutive parameters for a 4-fiber family invariant-based model were determined for all tissues to calculate in vivo axial pre-stretch that allows the artery to function in the most energy efficient manner while also preventing buckling during extremity flexion. Calculated axial pre-stretch was found to decrease with age, disease severity, and more distal arterial location. Histological analysis of the femoropopliteal artery demonstrated a distinct sub-adventitial layer of longitudinal elastin fibers that appeared thicker in healthier arteries. The femoropopliteal artery characteristics and properties determined in this study may assist in devising better diagnostic and treatment modalities for patients with peripheral arterial disease.