Study on tracheal collapsibility, compliance, and stress by considering nonlinear mechanical property of cartilage.


Tracheal cartilage has been widely regarded as a linear elastic material either in experimental studies or in analytic and numerical models. However, it has been recently demonstrated that, like other fiber-oriented biological tissues, tracheal cartilage is a nonlinear material, which displays higher strength in compression than in extension. Considering the nonlinearity requires a more complex theoretical frame work and costs more to simulate. This study aims to quantify the deviation due to the simplified treatment of the tracheal cartilage as a linear material. It also evaluates the improved accuracy gained by considering the nonlinearity. Pig tracheal rings were used to exam the mechanical properties of cartilage and muscular membrane. By taking into account the asymmetric shape of tracheal cartilage, the collapse behavior of complete rings was simulated, and the compliance of airway and stress in the muscular membrane were discussed. The results obtained were compared with those assuming linear mechanical properties. The following results were found: (1) Models based on both types of material properties give a small difference in representing collapse behavior; (2) regarding compliance, the relative difference is big, ranging from 10 to 40% under negative pressure conditions; and (3) the difference in determining stress in the muscular membrane is small too: