Author's Department

Mechanical Engineering

Date Submitted


Research Mentor and Department

Jessica Wagenseil, MEMS




Aortic aneurysms can lead to wall rupture or dissection, which are both deadly occurrences. The risk of developing problematic aneurysms increases with age, making them a growing concern in the USA’s aging population. Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm (TAA) treatment is highly effective if the TAA is diagnosed in time, however current surgical guidelines catch less than half of fatal TAA cases. Tortuosity (related to vessel length divided by the straight distance between two points of interest) has been proposed as a supplement to diameter based diagnosis of severity of TAA progression. This study aimed to confirm the validity of that proposal by focusing on 14 mice of known genotype, and performing image analysis on MRI scans taken at two-month intervals. MATLAB script was written to provide tortuosity, diameter, and curvature for any given aorta MRI. SimVascular simulation models were also made but still need to be fine-tuned in terms of constants and parameters before yielding reliable results. Procedures for dissection and extraction of aortae and carotids were learned, as well as procedures for compliance mechanical testing in the event that any of the mice experience fatal complications due to aortic aneurysm development. Two of the fourteen mice died due to aortic complications during the study; the first had elevated values in all measured criteria, whereas the second only had elevated tortuosity values and rate of increase in tortuosity. Since both mouse aorta showed elevated tortuosity values before death, even when diameter readings weren’t significant, results show a promising need for further investigation of tortuosity through studies with higher sample sizes. Continued study of the 12 remaining mice will better inform current results.