Modelling the layer-specific three-dimensional residual stresses in arteries, with an application to the human aorta

Gerhard Holzapfel, Raymond William Ogden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

159 Citations (Scopus)


This paper provides the first analysis of the three-dimensional state of residual stress and stretch in an artery wall consisting of three layers (intima, media and adventitia), modelled as a circular cylindrical tube. The analysis is based on experimental results on human aortas with non-atherosclerotic intimal thickening documented in a recent paper by Holzapfel et al. ( Holzapfel et al. 2007 Ann. Biomed. Eng. 35, 530–545 (doi:10.1007/s10439-006-9252-z)). The intima is included in the analysis because it has significant thickness and load-bearing capacity, unlike in a young, healthy human aorta. The mathematical model takes account of bending and stretching in both the circumferential and axial directions in each layer of the wall. Previous analysis of residual stress was essentially based on a simple application of the opening-angle method, which cannot accommodate the three-dimensional residual stretch and stress states observed in experiments. The geometry and nonlinear kinematics of the intima, media and adventitia are derived and the associated stress components determined explicitly using the nonlinear theory of elasticity. The theoretical results are then combined with the mean numerical values of the geometrical parameters and material constants from the experiments to illustrate the three-dimensional distributions of the stretches and stresses throughout the wall. The results highlight the compressive nature of the circumferential stress in the intima, which may be associated with buckling of the intima and its delamination from the media, and show that the qualitative features of the stretch and stress distributions in the media and adventitia are unaffected by the presence or absence of the intima. The circumferential residual stress in the intima increases significantly as the associated residual deformation in the intima increases while the corresponding stress in the media (which is compressive at its inner boundary and tensile at its outer boundary) is only slightly affected. The theoretical framework developed herein enables the state of residual stress to be calculated directly, serves to improve insight into the mechanical response of an unloaded artery wall and can be extended to accommodate more general geometries, kinematics and states of residual stress as well as more general constitutive models.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)787-799
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Issue number46
Early online date14 Oct 2009
Publication statusPublished - May 2010


  • residual stress
  • residual deformation
  • artery layers
  • arterial wall mechanics
  • finite elasticity


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