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On the defect tolerance of fetal membranes


Bircher, Kevin; Ehret, Alexander E; Spiess, Deborah; Ehrbar, Martin; Simões-Wüst, Ana Paula; Ochsenbein-Kölble, Nicole; Zimmermann, Roland; Mazza, Edoardo (2019). On the defect tolerance of fetal membranes. Interface Focus, 9(5):20190010.

Abstract

A series of mechanical experiments were performed to quantify the strength and fracture toughness of human amnion and chorion. The experiments were complemented with computational investigations using a ‘hybrid’ model that includes an explicit representation of the collagen fibre network of amnion. Despite its much smaller thickness, amnion is shown to be stiffer, stronger and tougher than chorion, and thus to determine the mechanical response of fetal membranes, with respect to both, deformation and fracture behaviour. Data from uniaxial tension and fracture tests were used to inform and validate the computational model, which was then applied to rationalize measurements of the tear resistance of tissue samples containing crack-like defects. Experiments and computations show that the strength of amnion is not significantly reduced by defects smaller than 1 mm, but the crack size induced by perforations for amniocentesis and fetal membrane suturing during fetal surgery might be larger than this value. In line with previous experimental observations, the computational model predicts a very narrow near field at the crack tip of amnion, due to localized fibre alignment and collagen compaction. This mechanism shields the tissue from the defect and strongly reduces the interaction of multiple adjacent cracks. These findings were confirmed through corresponding experiments, showing that no interaction is expected for multiple sutures for an inter-suture distance larger than 1 mm and 3 mm for amnion and chorion, respectively. The experimental procedures and numerical models applied in the present study might be used to optimize needle and/or staple dimensions and inter-suture distance, and thus to reduce the risk of iatrogenic preterm premature rupture of the membranes from amniocentesis, fetoscopic and open prenatal surgery.

Abstract

A series of mechanical experiments were performed to quantify the strength and fracture toughness of human amnion and chorion. The experiments were complemented with computational investigations using a ‘hybrid’ model that includes an explicit representation of the collagen fibre network of amnion. Despite its much smaller thickness, amnion is shown to be stiffer, stronger and tougher than chorion, and thus to determine the mechanical response of fetal membranes, with respect to both, deformation and fracture behaviour. Data from uniaxial tension and fracture tests were used to inform and validate the computational model, which was then applied to rationalize measurements of the tear resistance of tissue samples containing crack-like defects. Experiments and computations show that the strength of amnion is not significantly reduced by defects smaller than 1 mm, but the crack size induced by perforations for amniocentesis and fetal membrane suturing during fetal surgery might be larger than this value. In line with previous experimental observations, the computational model predicts a very narrow near field at the crack tip of amnion, due to localized fibre alignment and collagen compaction. This mechanism shields the tissue from the defect and strongly reduces the interaction of multiple adjacent cracks. These findings were confirmed through corresponding experiments, showing that no interaction is expected for multiple sutures for an inter-suture distance larger than 1 mm and 3 mm for amnion and chorion, respectively. The experimental procedures and numerical models applied in the present study might be used to optimize needle and/or staple dimensions and inter-suture distance, and thus to reduce the risk of iatrogenic preterm premature rupture of the membranes from amniocentesis, fetoscopic and open prenatal surgery.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Obstetrics
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Uncontrolled Keywords:Biotechnology, Biophysics, Biochemistry, Bioengineering, Biomaterials, Biomedical Engineering
Language:English
Date:6 October 2019
Deposited On:12 Feb 2020 10:52
Last Modified:12 Feb 2020 10:57
Publisher:Royal Society Publishing
ISSN:2042-8898
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1098/rsfs.2019.0010
PubMed ID:31485307

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