Method for non-optical quantification of in situ local soft tissue biomechanics

J Biomech. 2013 Jul 26;46(11):1938-42. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2013.05.014. Epub 2013 Jun 19.


Soft tissues exhibit significant biomechanical changes as they grow, adapt, and remodel under a variety of normal and pathogenic stimuli. Biomechanical measurement of intact soft tissues is challenging because of its large strain and nonlinear behavior. Tissue distention through applied vacuum pressure is an attractive method for acquiring local biomechanical information minimally invasive and non-destructive, but the current requirement for optical strain measurement limits its use. In this study, we implemented a novel flexible micro-electrode array placed within a cylindrical probe tip. We hypothesized that upon tissue distention, contact with each electrode would result in a precipitous voltage drop (from the resistive connection formed between input and output electrodes) across the array. Hence, tissue distention (strain) can be derived directly from the electrode array geometry. In pilot studies, we compared the electrode array measurements directly against optical deformation measurements in-situ of agar tissue phantoms and freshly isolated porcine tissue. Our results demonstrate that the probe derived stress-strain profiles and modulus measurements were statistically indistinguishable from optical measurement. We further show that electrode geometry can be scaled down to 50μm in size (length and width) and spaced 50μm apart without impairing measurement accuracy. These results establish a promising new method for minimally invasive local soft tissue biomechanical measurement, which may be useful for applications such as disease diagnosis and health monitoring.

Keywords: Biopsy; Diagnosis; Flexible electronics; Microelectrode device; Pipette aspiration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Connective Tissue / physiology*
  • Equipment Design
  • Heart / physiology
  • Liver / physiology
  • Lung / physiology
  • Microelectrodes
  • Phantoms, Imaging
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Sus scrofa