A continuum mechanics-based musculo-mechanical model for esophageal transport

Wenjun Kou, Boyce E. Griffith, John E. Pandolfino, Peter J. Kahrilas, Neelesh A. Patankar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


In this work, we extend our previous esophageal transport model using an immersed boundary (IB) method with discrete fiber-based structural model, to one using a continuum mechanics-based model that is approximated based on finite elements (IB-FE). To deal with the leakage of flow when the Lagrangian mesh becomes coarser than the fluid mesh, we employ adaptive interaction quadrature points to deal with Lagrangian–Eulerian interaction equations based on a previous work (Griffith and Luo [1]). In particular, we introduce a new anisotropic adaptive interaction quadrature rule. The new rule permits us to vary the interaction quadrature points not only at each time-step and element but also at different orientations per element. This helps to avoid the leakage issue without sacrificing the computational efficiency and accuracy in dealing with the interaction equations. For the material model, we extend our previous fiber-based model to a continuum-based model. We present formulations for general fiber-reinforced material models in the IB-FE framework. The new material model can handle non-linear elasticity and fiber-matrix interactions, and thus permits us to consider more realistic material behavior of biological tissues. To validate our method, we first study a case in which a three-dimensional short tube is dilated. Results on the pressure-displacement relationship and the stress distribution matches very well with those obtained from the implicit FE method. We remark that in our IB-FE case, the three-dimensional tube undergoes a very large deformation and the Lagrangian mesh-size becomes about 6 times of Eulerian mesh-size in the circumferential orientation. To validate the performance of the method in handling fiber-matrix material models, we perform a second study on dilating a long fiber-reinforced tube. Errors are small when we compare numerical solutions with analytical solutions. The technique is then applied to the problem of esophageal transport. We use two fiber-reinforced models for the esophageal tissue: a bi-linear model and an exponential model. We present three cases on esophageal transport that differ in the material model and the muscle fiber architecture. The overall transport features are consistent with those observed from the previous model. We remark that the continuum-based model can handle more realistic and complicated material behavior. This is demonstrated in our third case where a spatially varying fiber architecture is included based on experimental study. We find that this unique muscle fiber architecture could generate a so-called pressure transition zone, which is a luminal pressure pattern that is of clinical interest. This suggests an important role of muscle fiber architecture in esophageal transport.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)433-459
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Computational Physics
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017


  • Esophageal transport
  • Fiber-reinforced model
  • Fluid–structure interaction
  • Immersed boundary method

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mathematics
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Numerical Analysis
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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