Mechanical Characterization of Thermally Damaged Human and Porcine Skin Tissue for Escharotomy Simulators

Gallagher, Samara
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De, Suvranu
Zhang, Lucy T.
Panneerselvam, Karthik
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Mechanical engineering
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Patients with full-thickness burns and, in rare cases, very deep partial-thickness burns that cause impairment of circulation and/or respiration may require escharotomy to restore perfusion and airway ventilation. Escharotomy is an urgent, infrequent, and relatively high-risk procedure in which the burned skin is incised down to the subcutaneous level, providing decompression through the incision sites. Hence, burn care providers, including non-expert providers, must be adequately trained to perform escharotomy as and when needed. However, existing escharotomy simulators fall short in providing adequate visual and haptic feedback necessary to develop muscle memory. Human tissue has associated ethical, immunological, and availability issues; therefore, natural porcine tissue is commonly used as a model for natural human skin. The first specific aim of this research is to determine if the mechanical properties of full-thickness burnt porcine skin are statistically similar to that of full-thickness burnt human skin. The second aim is to investigate strain rate effects on full-thickness burnt human and porcine skin. Uniaxial tensile tests were conducted at 0.3 mm/s, 2 mm/s, and 8 mm/s. The material parameters of the Veronda-Westmann hyperelastic model were calibrated using stress-strain curves. The ultimate tensile stress, ultimate tensile strain, and toughness of skin samples were obtained from the stress-strain data. Univariate statistical analysis of mechanical properties indicates that burnt human tissue and burnt porcine tissue are not statistically similar. Burnt human tissue is rate-independent in the range of strain rates tested, while the burnt porcine tissue is not.
May 2021
School of Engineering
Dept. of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY
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