Longitudinal movements and resulting shear strain of the arterial wall

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There has been little interest in the longitudinal movement of the arterial wall. It has been assumed that this movement is negligible compared with the diameter change. Using a new high-resolution noninvasive ultrasonic method, we measured longitudinal movements and diameter change of the common carotid artery of 10 healthy humans. During the cardiac cycle, a distinct bidirectional longitudinal movement of the intima-media complex could be observed in all the subjects. An antegrade longitudinal movement, i.e., in the direction of blood flow, in early systole [ 0.39 mm ( SD 0.26)] was followed by a retrograde longitudinal movement, i.e., in the direction opposite blood flow [ -0.52 mm ( SD 0.27)], later in systole and a second antegrade longitudinal movement [ 0.41 mm ( SD 0.33)] in diastole. The corresponding diameter change was 0.65 mm ( SD 0.19). The adventitial region showed the same basic pattern of longitudinal movement; however, the magnitude of the movements was smaller than that of the intimamedia complex, thereby introducing shear strain and, thus, shear stress within the wall [ maximum shear strain between the intima-media complex and the adventitial region was 0.36 rad ( SD 0.26). These phenomena have not previously been described. Measurements were also performed on the abdominal aorta ( n = 3) and brachial ( n = 3) and popliteal ( n = 3) arteries. Our new information seems to be of fundamental importance for further study and evaluation of vascular biology and hemodynamics and, thus, for study of atherosclerosis and vascular diseases.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)H394-H402
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology: Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Physiology


  • arterial wall movements
  • shearing
  • vascular ultrasound
  • strain in arteries
  • carotid artery
  • vascular mechanics


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