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Research Papers

Computational Design and Optimization of Nerve Guidance Conduits for Improved Mechanical Properties and Permeability

[+] Author and Article Information
Shuo Zhang, Geng Liang Chong, Jerry Ying Hsi Fuh, Wen Feng Lu

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
National University of Singapore,
9 Engineering Drive 1,
Singapore 117576

Sanjairaj Vijayavenkataraman

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
National University of Singapore,
9 Engineering Drive 1,
Singapore 117576
e-mail: vijayavenkataraman@u.nus.edu

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received July 31, 2018; final manuscript received February 20, 2019; published online March 25, 2019. Assoc. Editor: Brittany Coats.

J Biomech Eng 141(5), 051007 (Mar 25, 2019) (8 pages) Paper No: BIO-18-1350; doi: 10.1115/1.4043036 History: Received July 31, 2018; Revised February 20, 2019

Nerve guidance conduits (NGCs) are tubular tissue engineering scaffolds used for nerve regeneration. The poor mechanical properties and porosity have always compromised their performances for guiding and supporting axonal growth. Therefore, in order to improve the properties of NGCs, the computational design approach was adopted to investigate the effects of different NGC structural features on their various properties, and finally, design an ideal NGC with mechanical properties matching human nerves and high porosity and permeability. Three common NGC designs, namely hollow luminal, multichannel, and microgrooved, were chosen in this study. Simulations were conducted to study the mechanical properties and permeability. The results show that pore size is the most influential structural feature for NGC tensile modulus. Multichannel NGCs have higher mechanical strength but lower permeability compared to other designs. Square pores lead to higher permeability but lower mechanical strength than circular pores. The study finally selected an optimized hollow luminal NGC with a porosity of 71% and a tensile modulus of 8 MPa to achieve multiple design requirements. The use of computational design and optimization was shown to be promising in future NGC design and nerve tissue engineering research.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

NGC models: (a) HL NGC with circular pores, (b) HL NGC with square pores, (c) MG NGC, and (d) MC NGC. Top row: isometric view and bottom row: cross-sectional view. p, pore size; s, strut size; t, wall thickness; w, groove width; d, groove depth; and c, channel size (extracted from solidworks).

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Fig. 2

Boundary conditions used to calculate the NGC mechanical properties and permeability: (a) tensile, shear, and bending loading conditions (extracted from abaqus) and (b) uniaxial flow condition (extracted from ANSYS fluent)

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Fig. 3

Effects of different structural features on the NGC porosity and SA/V

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Fig. 4

Stress contours of HL NGCs under (a) tensile, (b) torsion, and (c) bending loads

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Fig. 5

The relationship between NGC porosity and tensile modulus

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Fig. 6

Pressure contour (a, c, e) and velocity contour (b, d, f) for HL NGCs and MG NGCs

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Fig. 7

The relationship between the NGC tensile modulus and longitudinal and circumferential pore size

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