Generalized anisotropic inverse mechanics for soft tissues

Ramesh Raghupathy, Victor H. Barocas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Elastography, which is the imaging of soft tissues on the basis of elastic modulus (or, more generally, stiffness) has become increasingly popular in the last decades and holds promise for application in many medical areas. Most of the attention has focused on inhomogeneous materials that are locally isotropic, the intent being to detect a (stiff) tumor within a (compliant) tissue. Many tissues of mechanical interest, however, are anisotropic, so a method capable of determining material anisotropy would be attractive. We present here an approach to determine the mechanical anisotropy of inhomogeneous, anisotropic tissues, by directly solving the finite element representation of the Cauchy stress balance in the tissue. The method divides the sample domain into subdomains assumed to have uniform properties and solves for the material constants in each subdomain. Two-dimensional simulated experiments on linear anisotropic inhomogeneous systems demonstrate the ability of the method, and simulated experiments on a nonlinear model demonstrate the ability of the method to capture anisotropy qualitatively even though only a linear model is used in the inverse problem. As with any inverse problem, ill-posedness is a serious concern, and multiple tests may need to be done on the same sample to determine the properties with confidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of biomechanical engineering
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2010


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