A biomimetic approach for designing stent-graft structures: Caterpillar cuticle as design model

J Mech Behav Biomed Mater. 2014 Feb;30:16-29. doi: 10.1016/j.jmbbm.2013.10.014. Epub 2013 Oct 25.


Stent-graft (SG) induced biomechanical mismatch at the aortic repair site forms the major reason behind postoperative hemodynamic complications. These complications arise from mismatched radial compliance and stiffness property of repair device relative to native aortic mechanics. The inability of an exoskeleton SG design (an externally stented rigid polyester graft) to achieve optimum balance between structural robustness and flexibility constrains its biomechanical performance limits. Therefore, a new SG design capable of dynamically controlling its stiffness and flexibility has been proposed in this study. The new design is adopted from the segmented hydroskeleton structure of a caterpillar cuticle and comprises of high performance polymeric filaments constructed in a segmented knit architecture. Initially, conceptual design models of caterpillar and SG were developed and later translated into an experimental SG prototype. The in-vitro biomechanical evaluation (compliance, bending moment, migration intensity, and viscoelasticity) revealed significantly better performance of hydroskeleton structure than a commercial SG device (Zenith(™) Flex SG) and woven Dacron(®) graft-prosthesis. Structural segmentation improved the biomechanical behaviour of new SG by inducing a three dimensional volumetric expansion property when the SG was subjected to hoop stresses. Interestingly, this behaviour matches the orthotropic elastic property of native aorta and hence proposes segmented hydroskeleton structures as promising design approach for future aortic repair devices.

Keywords: Biomimetics; CaT-SG; Caterpillar cuticle; Caterpillar stent-graft; Compliance; EVAR; Endovascular aneurysm repair; HS; Hard segment; Hydroskeleton; ISM; Intersegmental membrane; Migration; PET; PU; Polyethylene-terephthalate; Polyurethane; SG; SS; Soft segment; Stent-graft; Z-SG; Zenith(™) Flex stent-graft.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aorta
  • Biomimetics / methods*
  • Blood Vessel Prosthesis
  • Elasticity
  • Lepidoptera / anatomy & histology*
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Motion
  • Prosthesis Design / methods*
  • Stents*
  • Viscosity