Cerebral Vasculature Influences Blast-Induced Biomechanical Responses of Human Brain Tissue

Front Bioeng Biotechnol. 2021 Nov 4;9:744808. doi: 10.3389/fbioe.2021.744808. eCollection 2021.


Multiple finite-element (FE) models to predict the biomechanical responses in the human brain resulting from the interaction with blast waves have established the importance of including the brain-surface convolutions, the major cerebral veins, and using non-linear brain-tissue properties to improve model accuracy. We hypothesize that inclusion of a more detailed network of cerebral veins and arteries can further enhance the model-predicted biomechanical responses and help identify correlates of blast-induced brain injury. To more comprehensively capture the biomechanical responses of human brain tissues to blast-wave exposure, we coupled a three-dimensional (3-D) detailed-vasculature human-head FE model, previously validated for blunt impact, with a 3-D shock-tube FE model. Using the coupled model, we computed the biomechanical responses of a human head facing an incoming blast wave for blast overpressures (BOPs) equivalent to 68, 83, and 104 kPa. We validated our FE model, which includes the detailed network of cerebral veins and arteries, the gyri and the sulci, and hyper-viscoelastic brain-tissue properties, by comparing the model-predicted intracranial pressure (ICP) values with previously collected data from shock-tube experiments performed on cadaver heads. In addition, to quantify the influence of including a more comprehensive network of brain vessels, we compared the biomechanical responses of our detailed-vasculature model with those of a reduced-vasculature model and a no-vasculature model for the same blast-loading conditions. For the three BOPs, the predicted ICP values matched well with the experimental results in the frontal lobe, with peak-pressure differences of 4-11% and phase-shift differences of 9-13%. As expected, incorporating the detailed cerebral vasculature did not influence the ICP, however, it redistributed the peak brain-tissue strains by as much as 30% and yielded peak strain differences of up to 7%. When compared to existing reduced-vasculature FE models that only include the major cerebral veins, our high-fidelity model redistributed the brain-tissue strains in most of the brain, highlighting the importance of including a detailed cerebral vessel network in human-head FE models to more comprehensively account for the biomechanical responses induced by blast exposure.

Keywords: blast overpressure; blast-induced traumatic brain injury; brain biomechanical responses; finite-element model; human cerebral vasculature; shock tube.