Anisotropy of Passive and Active Rat Vagina under Biaxial Loading

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Virginia Tech


Pelvic organ prolapse, the decent of the pelvic organs from their normal anatomical position, is a common condition among women that is associated with mechanical alterations of the vaginal wall. In order to characterize the complex mechanical behavior of the vagina, we performed planar biaxial tests of vaginal specimens in both the passive (relaxed) and active (contracted) states. Specimens were isolated from virgin, female Long-Evans rats (n=16) and simultaneously stretched along the longitudinal direction (LD) and circumferential direction (CD) of the vagina. Tissue contraction was induced by electric field stimulation (EFS) at incrementally increasing values of stretch and, subsequently, by KCl. On average, the vagina was stiffer in the CD than in the LD (p<0.001). The mean maximum EFS-induced active stress was significantly higher in the CD than in the LD (p<0.001). On the contrary, the mean KCl-induced active stress was lower in the CD than in the LD (p<0.01). When comparing the mean maximum EFS-induced active stress to the mean KCl-induced active stress, no differences were found in the CD (p=0.404) but, in the LD, the mean active stress was much higher in response to the KCl stimulation (p<0.001). Collectively, these results demonstrate that the anisotropic behavior of the vaginal tissue is determined not only by the collagen and smooth muscle fiber organization but also by the innervation. The findings of this study may contribute to the development of more effective treatments for pelvic organ prolapse.



vagina, biaxial mechanical characterization, contractile force