Ultrasound Elastography for Estimation of Regional Strain of Multilayered Hydrogels and Tissue-Engineered Cartilage

Chen Yuan Chung, Joseph Heebner, Harihara Baskaran, Jean F. Welter, Joseph M. Mansour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Tissue-engineered (TE) cartilage constructs tend to develop inhomogeneously, thus, to predict the mechanical performance of the tissue, conventional biomechanical testing, which yields average material properties, is of limited value. Rather, techniques for evaluating regional and depth-dependent properties of TE cartilage, preferably non-destructively, are required. The purpose of this study was to build upon our previous results and to investigate the feasibility of using ultrasound elastography to non-destructively assess the depth-dependent biomechanical characteristics of TE cartilage while in a sterile bioreactor. As a proof-of-concept, and to standardize an assessment protocol, a well-characterized three-layered hydrogel construct was used as a surrogate for TE cartilage, and was studied under controlled incremental compressions. The strain field of the construct predicted by elastography was then validated by comparison with a poroelastic finite-element analysis (FEA). On average, the differences between the strains predicted by elastography and the FEA were within 10%. Subsequently engineered cartilage tissue was evaluated in the same test fixture. Results from these examinations showed internal regions where the local strain was 1–2 orders of magnitude greater than that near the surface. These studies document the feasibility of using ultrasound to evaluate the mechanical behaviors of maturing TE constructs in a sterile environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2991-3003
Number of pages13
JournalAnnals of Biomedical Engineering
Issue number12
StatePublished - 16 Jun 2015


  • Acoustic methods
  • Bioreactor
  • Depth-dependent deformation
  • Mechanical properties
  • Multimodal evaluation


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