Design of a planar biaxial mechanical testing device for soft biological tissues
The application of continuum mechanics principles to biological tissues is paramount to understanding (patho)physiological changes in tissue structure and function. Experimental and mathematical approaches can be utilized to quantify tissue mechanical behavior. In particular, planar biaxial mechanical testing of soft tissues (i.e. applying loads or deformation along two axes in the same plane) has proven to mimic physiologically relevant conditions for most soft tissues. Constitutive relations can then be formulated based on biaxial data to describe and predict soft tissue mechanical behavior. These mathematical tools could aid in delineating underlying mechanisms of and evaluating treatments for various clinically relevant issues. Therefore, the overall objective of this thesis is to build a custom planar biaxial mechanical testing device to characterize the mechanical properties of soft biological tissues to identify appropriate constitutive relations. A custom planar biaxial mechanical testing device was successfully built and validated. A LabVIEW program was written to interface with the stepper motors and load cells of the device to control their movements. A mechanical testing protocol was developed and incorporated to enable the characterization of a variety of soft tissue structure-function relationships. Foundations were laid for studies using the planar biaxial device for research in a tissue-engineered nipple-areolar complex (NAC), pelvic floor disorders, and age-specific tendinopathy. The planar biaxial device has the potential to impact many areas of clinical research.