A nonlinear anisotropic inverse method for computational dissection of inhomogeneous planar tissues
Quantification of the mechanical behavior of soft tissues is challenging due to their anisotropic, heterogeneous, and nonlinear nature. We present a method for the ‘computational dissection’ of a tissue, by which we mean the use of computational tools both to identify and to analyze regions within a tissue sample that have different mechanical properties. The approach employs an inverse technique applied to a series of planar biaxial experimental protocols. The aggregated data from multiple protocols provide the basis for (1) segmentation of the tissue into regions of similar properties, (2) linear analysis for the small-strain behavior, assuming uniform, linear, anisotropic behavior within each region, (3) subsequent nonlinear analysis following each individual experimental protocol path and using local linear properties, and (4) construction of a strain energy data set W(E) at every point in the material by integrating the differential stress–strain functions along each strain path. The approach has been applied to simulated data and captures not only the general nonlinear behavior but also the regional differences introduced into the simulated tissue sample.