Research ArticleAPPLIED SCIENCES AND ENGINEERING

Avalanches and power law behavior in aortic dissection propagation

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Science Advances  22 May 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 21, eaaz1173
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz1173

Abstract

Aortic dissection is a devastating cardiovascular disease known for its rapid propagation and high morbidity and mortality. The mechanisms underlying the propagation of aortic dissection are not well understood. Our study reports the discovery of avalanche-like failure of the aorta during dissection propagation that results from the local buildup of strain energy followed by a cascade failure of inhomogeneously distributed interlamellar collagen fibers. An innovative computational model was developed that successfully describes the failure mechanics of dissection propagation. Our study provides the first quantitative agreement between experiment and model prediction of the dissection propagation within the complex extracellular matrix (ECM). Our results may lead to the possibility of predicting such catastrophic events based on microscopic features of the ECM.

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