The function of the esophagus is mechanical. To understand the function, it is necessary to know how the stress and strain in the esophagus can be computed, and how to determine the stress-strain relationship of the wall materials. The present article is devoted to the issue of determining the incremental elastic moduli in the layers of the esophagus under homeostatic conditions. The esophagus is treated as a two-layered structure consisting of an inner collagen-rich submucosa layer and an outer muscle layer. We adopt a theory based on small perturbation experiments at homeostatic conditions for determination of incremental moduli in circumferential, axial, and cross directions in the two layers. The experiments are inflation, axial stretching, circumferential bending, and axial bending. The analysis takes advantage of knowing the esophageal zero-stress state (an open sector with an opening angle of 59.4 +/- 13.2 deg). The neutral axis was located 27% +/- 1.9%away from the mucosal surface. It is demonstrated that under homeostatic conditions, the incremental moduli are layer and direction dependent. The incremental modulus is the highest in the axial direction. Furthermore, the axial moduli for the two layers are similar, whereas in the circumferential direction, the incremental modulus is a factor of 6 higher in the mucosa-submucosa layer compared to the muscle layer. Hence, the esophagus has to be treated as a composite, anisotropic body. With this additional information, we can then look forward to a vision of truly understanding the mechanical events of the esophagus.
Journal of Biomechanical Engineering, 2008, Vol 130, Issue 1