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Impact of axisymmetric deformation on MR elastography of a nonlinear tissue-mimicking material and implications in peri-tumour stiffness quantification

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
JournalPLoS One
Accepted/In press28 Jun 2021

King's Authors


Solid tumour growth is often associated with the accumulation of mechanical stresses acting on the surrounding host tissue. Due to tissue nonlinearity, the shear modulus of the peri-tumoural region inherits a signature from the tumour expansion which depends on multiple factors, including the soft tissue constitutive behaviour and its stress/strain state. Shear waves used in MR-elastography (MRE) sense the apparent change in shear modulus along their propagation direction, thereby probing the anisotropic stiffness field around the tumour.
We developed an analytical framework for a heterogeneous shear modulus
distribution using a thick-shelled sphere approximation of the tumour and soft tissue ensemble. A hyperelastic material (plastisol) was identified to validate the proposed theory in a phantom setting. A balloon-catheter connected to a pressure sensor was used to replicate the stress generated from tumour pressure and growth while MRE data were acquired. The shear modulus anisotropy retrieved from the reconstructed elastography data confirmed the analytically predicted patterns at various levels of inflation. An alternative measure, combining the generated deformation and the local wave direction and independent of the reconstruction strategy, was also proposed to correlate the analytical findings with the stretch probed by the waves.
Overall, we demonstrated that MRE, in combination with non-linear mechanics, can
link the apparent shear modulus variation with the strain generated by an idealised
growing tumour. Investigation in real tissue represents the next step to further
elaborate the implications of endogenous forces in tissue characterisation through MRE.

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