Effects of perfusion on the viscoelastic characteristics of liver

J Biomech. 2006;39(12):2221-31. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2005.07.005. Epub 2005 Aug 29.


Accurate characterization of soft tissue material properties is required to enable new computer-aided medical technologies such as surgical training and planning. The current means of acquiring these properties in the in vivo and ex vivo states is fraught with problems, including limited accessibility and unknown boundary conditions in the former, and unnatural behavior in the latter. This paper presents a new testing method where a whole porcine liver is perfused under physiologic conditions and tested in an ex vivo setting. To characterize the effects of perfusion on the viscoelastic response of liver, indentation devices made force and displacement measurements across four conditions: in vivo, ex vivo perfused, ex vivo post perfused, and in vitro on an excised section. One device imposed cyclic perturbations on the liver's surface, inducing nominal strains up to 5% at frequencies from 0.1 to 200 Hz. The other device measured 300 s of the organ's creep response to applied loads, inducing nominal surface stresses of 6.9-34.7 kPa and nominal strains up to 50%. Results from empirical models indicate that the viscoelastic properties of liver change with perfusion and that two time constants on the order of 1.86 and 51.3s can characterize the liver under large strains typical of surgical manipulation across time periods up to 300 s. Unperfused conditions were stiffer and more viscous than the in vivo state, resulting in permanent strain deformation with repeated indentations. Conversely, the responses from the ex vivo perfusion condition closely approximated the in vivo response.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Education, Medical / methods
  • Elasticity
  • General Surgery / education
  • Humans
  • Liver / physiology*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Perfusion
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Surface Properties
  • Surgery, Computer-Assisted / education
  • Surgery, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Swine
  • Viscosity