A three-dimensional finite element model of the human thorax has been developed to study the mechanism of aortic rupture due to blunt impacts. The model has been validated against data from pendulum tests in both frontal and lateral directions. Effective stresses of the aortic inner wall were predicted in four different regions that are most likely to rupture. The aortic isthmus, clinically the most frequently ruptured site, was found to have the highest magnitude of stress among four locations in both frontal and side impact simulations. It is hypothesized that bending of the aortic arch posteriorly and stretching of the aortic arch laterally lead to biaxial tension at the aortic isthmus during blunt impact, which may help to explain the mechanism of injury in aortic ruptures.

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